Kurt Ritter, has been the CEO & President of The Rezidor Hotel Group for more than 20 years, making him the longest serving CEO in hospitality worldwide. He is also attending the WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Las Vegas this week.
BTN: Having been at the head of the Rezidor Hotel Group for over 20 years, and as the longest serving CEO in the hotel industry, what advice would like to pass on to hospitality professionals about successfully leading a multi-brand, international hotel group?
KR: No matter how big a group gets or how many brands are included in the portfolio: it is important to remember that the hospitality business is a people business – happy guests, happy employees and happy owners are key, and loyalty is crucial. The hospitality business is also all about service – a good hotelier must enjoy being a good host.
BTN: What has been the surprising developments in the hotel industry that you have witnessed over the past three decades?
If I answer this on a very personal level and with a winking eye: when I was a child, we just installed the first rooms with private bathroom in our hotel – “bed & bath” was the new must-have at that time. Today, it is “bed & bath, TV, free internet, extra service 1, extra service 2, and more” – a great development if I look back at the last 30 years.
BTN: Having had your employment agreement with Rezidor extended for a further three years, what will be your key priorities for the brand?
KR: We will clearly focus on our two core brands, Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson.
With regards to Radisson Blu we are working together with Carlson on a global brand alignment. The Radisson service standards are not yet the same all across the globe (Radisson Blu across Europe, Middle East and Africa represents an upper upscale tier whereas Radisson in the Americas and Asia-Pacific represents an upscale tier) – our aim is to improve the Radisson product outside EMEA and to also increase the share of American and Asian travellers in Radisson Blu hotels within EMEA.
Our mid-market brand Park Inn got the endorser “by Radisson” in 2010; we have combined Park Inn’s impressive growth story (from 0 to more than 140 hotels in seven years only) and Radisson’s great strength and reputation. We also have implemented a new management for Park Inn with Eric De Neef joining us as Senior Vice President Park Inn, and we have launched a new, fresh marketing campaign for the brand in spring 2011 which is presenting Park Inn hotels as hotels you can rely on. All these developments are the basis for a further focus on the brand.
The overall business development focus will further be on young and emerging markets – our main areas will remain Russia/CIS and the African continent where we already play a leading role and see huge opportunities due to improved infrastructures, increasingly stable systems and the lack of internationally branded hotels rooms (respectively the old and dated hotel inventory in many African capital cities).
The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit takes palce at the Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, 17-19 May 20011. To find out more visit www.globaltraveltourism.com
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