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ALIS: Interview With Radisson's Ken Greene On The Newest Radisson Blu And What's Next

After a couple of changes in ownership in the past two years and now with a new plan to grow and expand, Radisson Hotel Group is looking to make its mark nationwide. 

In one of the hotel group's latest projects, Radisson broke ground in November on its second Radisson in Orange County, a Radisson Blu at 1601 South Anaheim Blvd., less than a mile away from Disneyland Resort and a couple of miles from Angel Stadium, Honda Center and the Anaheim Convention Center.

Portland, Oregon-based BPM Real Estate Group is developing the property.

Former Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, BPM Real Estate Group's Walter C. Bowen and Radisson Hotel Group President, Americas Ken Greene at the groundbreaking of Radisson Blu in Anaheim

The four-star upscale property is a 12-story, 326-key hotel with an outdoor rooftop pool and restaurant where guests will be able to see Disneyland’s nightly fireworks show. 

The ground-up development is scheduled to open in 2020 and comes as Disneyland is slated to open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this summer and a couple of years removed from the expansion of the 1M SF Anaheim Convention Center

Radisson President of the Americas Ken Greene said the Radisson Blu — the hotel group’s fourth Blu hotel in the United States — will cater to families visiting Disneyland and business travelers heading to the convention center.

Bisnow caught up with Greene at the recent Americas Lodging Investment Summit at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles. He spoke about Anaheim’s newest hotel, the Radisson Hotel Group’s differing brands and what's in store for the hospitality company under new owners/investors Jin Jiang International Holdings.

Bisnow: Tell us about Radisson’s newest project, the Radisson Blu in Anaheim.

Greene: It’s a fabulous project. It’s going to be the tallest hotel in Anaheim. It’s going to have a rooftop bar and restaurant so every night our guests will have one of the best views — if not the best views — of Disneyland’s fireworks.

It’s a very unique opportunity for us. We believe it really fits in the marketplace because it is an upscale product and I think Anaheim is underserved in the business segment. There is a lot of need for that. We received a lot of support from the former mayor [Tom Tait].

Rendering of the Radisson Blu, a 12-story, 326-key upscale hotel at 1601 South Anaheim Blvd. in Anaheim

Bisnow: There are so many brands out there now. Tell us about the Radisson Blu and the Radisson Red along with other Radisson brands. What separates the different brands?

Greene: The Radisson Blu is our upper, upscale full-service segment. They are typically bigger hotels with a lot of room and meeting space, great restaurant experiences and [provide our guests] really that upscale experience. 

The core Radisson is the next segment down. It’s a full-service hotel. 

The Radisson Red is a select-service lifestyle brand. It’s a millennial mindset that crosses all demographics based on art, music and fashion. Those are the pillars. It’s a fresh cool new brand. The first [Radisson Red] we opened in Minneapolis and recently opened another in Portland, Oregon. 

And we’re announcing here at ALIS a new Radisson Red in Brickell, Miami — the Radisson Red Miami Brickell. It’s a very cool area. It’s going to be our second location in Miami. There is another currently under construction that is opening later this year next to the Miami airport.

Expect to see a lot more announcements regarding the Radisson Blu and Red soon.

The Radisson Country Inn & Suites is our upper mid-scale brand. 

The Park Inn by Radisson is a brand that is fabulous in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America as well. We’ll be introducing a new prototype in April and reintroduce that brand to this part of the world. It’s going to sit in between the Country Inn & Suites positioning and a Radisson Red.

Bisnow: What is driving this growth and expansion?

Greene: We have new owners and most recently an investor group led by Jin Jiang [International Holdings], which is the largest hotel group in China and the fifth-largest worldwide before the acquisition of Radisson [in 2018]

[HNA had acquired Radisson Holdings in 2016 before selling it to Shanghai-based Jin Jiang.]

It's ... quite exciting for us. They have 110 million people in just one of their loyalty programs. 

We're looking to capture the Chinese traveler. There are 120 to 130 million outbound Chinese travelers right now and that number goes up to 450 million in the next decade.

For us to start to capture that Chinese traveler or the Asian traveler and the Indian traveler as well and put them over into this part of the world, that is really powerful. If we can get more than our fair share that's great. What do we need? We need more hotels.

We are very focused on putting Radisson Blus in the key gateway cities [in the U.S.] and we hope someday soon we'll have one in LA.

So our growth is being spurred because it is a new company with an older portfolio of brands that are proven and we have a global plan and we're laser focused on that plan.

Rendering of the rooftop pool on top of the Radisson Blu in Anaheim

Bisnow: What are some new tech advances that you are introducing in your hotels?

Greene: We're very much focused right now on building a whole new technology platform at the front desk called Emma. Emma is an all-in-one property management system that can handle property management, a central reservation system and loyalty platform. 

The first pilot rollout will start in June. We hope to be fully deployed in a year or year and a half.

Bisnow: What is Radisson's ultimate goal in the next two to five years?

Greene: The ultimate goal is to be the best that we possibly can. I know that sounds obvious but it's true. We truly want to be the hotel company of choice for guests, developers, talent and partners. 

Being affiliated with Jin Jiang, we're hoping to be the largest hotel company. ... But we also want to be the best.

We want people to be with us and stay with us.