The shape of things to come

Eric De Neef, the new executive vice president, global chief commercial officer, of Radisson Hotel Group shares more about the hospitality group's plans over the next few years, and how it is planning to cater better to the ever-growing business events market

Tell us more about Radisson’s five-year global demand exercise.
In the next five years, Radisson Hotel Group aims to be one of the top three hotel companies in the world (through) a five-year operating plan that will deliver an aligned brand architecture, creative hospitality solutions, more streamlined operations and an integrated global platform. Our vision is to become the company of choice for guests, owners, investors and talent.

The rebranding of the umbrella brand, Radisson Hotel Group, leverages the powerful brand equity of the Radisson name, drive awareness and increase marketing efficiencies. Moreover, we have defined a new feeder market strategy coupled with a global integrated digital strategy.

We anticipate healthy underlying business performance, coupled with strong growth trajectory, in all of our brands.

With core expansion priorities in anchor Asia-Pacific markets and well-placed dedicated resources, we are in a prime position to double our portfolio size.

Highlighting China as a key growth market, we intend to build on our existing strengths in key cities while targeting aggressive growth in second-tier cities. We are looking to expand our mid-, upscale and lifestyle segment with the Radisson, Park Inn by Radisson and Radisson RED brands.

How does the Radisson rebranding impact the business events market?
Radisson Hotel Group’s global launch included a new global brand architecture supported by a refreshed loyalty programme Radisson Rewards, with a focus on business events.

We created Radisson Meetings by placing people at the heart of the process and treating every meeting or event as more than just a date on the calendar.

Radisson Meetings is built around three strong service commitments Professional, Personal and Memorable, while delivering on the brilliant basics and our signature “Yes I Can!” service spirit. Radisson Meetings provides a suite of bespoke services, professional planning tools, easy-to-use technologies, unique experiences, and more.

To top it all and reward loyalty, our Radisson Rewards earn valuable points toward rewards for all meeting bookings at all Radisson Hotel Group hotels. With Radisson Meetings, we are offering a fully integrated, holistic delivery of genuine hospitality and helping make every moment matter for our planners, event organisers and delegates.

Tell me more about Radisson’s expansion and development plans in this region.
The Group aims to double its Asia-Pacific portfolio, adding 20,000 rooms in the mid-term.

With emerging economies driving the business events industry’s growth, businesses in the region are responding to this market segment. Business events properties continue to be a key focus for us. As China is also seen to be a market that holds the gravitas of major economic activity, we see excellent potential in secondary cities.

To cater to these markets, new hotels such as Radisson Blu Wuhan ETD Zone which is set to open in 2019 will provide a full range of facilities, including space for corporate conferences and large-scale events. Being one of the largest cities in Central China, it has attracted many major Chinese and international companies to the city. The hotel is set to meet these corporate needs with the various signature meeting programmes which the brand has in place.

How do you view the future of the business events market in Asia-Pacific?
It is looking strong as it is expected to reach US$1.24 billion globally by 2023, which encompasses various aspects of business events including venues, accommodation, and the planning and execution of an event.

Looking ahead, more specifically in Asia-Pacific, one of the fastest developing regions in the world, there will be a long future for the business events industry.

According to Allied Market research, Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth rate of 8.6 per cent during the forecast period. (The business events market in) Asia-Pacific is driven by emerging countries. The growth of the Asia-Pacific business events industry is fuelled by the ease of visa restrictions, investments in better infrastructure, and high demand in commercial aviation.

Today, there is more demand for meetings, exhibitions and events for brainstorming ideas, showcasing the latest innovations or simply for networking and attracting clients.

What interesting observations have you made of the business events market here?
Rapid globalisation, and the continuous evolution of scientific and technological innovations, have contributed to the exponential growth of the business events market.

The digital landscape is evolving rapidly as new technologies are introduced and strong developments in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are seen. Technology will no doubt change the future of the business events industry. Virtual reality will change the market by offering experiences through interactive 360-degree technology.

Social media is also a key marketing tool for the business events industry as it influences the way people read and search, behave, meet and travel today. Social media is therefore changing the way the business events and travel industries market their events, services and destinations.

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