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We’re targeting 40 branches in Nigeria, says Radisson Blu

We’re targeting 40 branches in Nigeria, says Radisson Blu
January 28
13:22 2018
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William McIntyre, is a regional director at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, operators of a number of hotel brands, which include Radisson Blu. He has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, with his most recent role as chief operating officer (COO) for the largest hospitality real estate fund in Southern Africa, Hospitality Property Fund.

Starting his career in 1993 he delved in various roles within the hospitality industry which included special projects manager for Sun City Resort and HR Manager for several divisions of Sun City, one of the largest destination resorts.

In the last two years, Carlson Rezidor has opened a new hotel in Africa every 45 days and signed a new hotel deal every 37 days. Today, Radisson Blu has the largest pipeline of hotel rooms in Africa according to the study prepared by W-Hospitality, a group which specialise in the provision of advisory services to hotels and leisure industries.

In this interview, McIntyre talks about what makes Radisson Hotel unique among other hotels in Nigeria: its style of “selling experience” rather than just rooms and conference spaces, its plan to have 40 branches in Nigeria. He also throws light on the impact made by the hotel over the years and how, among other things, it is growing by leaps and bounds, recording various strides in its “extraordinary” services.


Why did you decide to build a luxury hotel in Nigeria?

I think it’s important to understand Nigeria in a context of hospitality and Africa. We have 85 hotels in Africa – either open or under development and all that happened within the last 12 years. We are expanding rapidly with our core brand Radisson Blu, officially the fastest growing brand on the continent. You can’t expand on the continent without paying special attention to the largest market on the continent. Nigeria has 36 states with a significant oil and gas economy and booming tourism market. Nigeria has fought hard to become the leading economy on the continent and you can’t ignore that type of effort if you’re going to become a serious player. We have nine hotels in Nigeria – three of which are now open and six under development. However, our long-term objective is to have up to 40 in Nigeria.

We as a company have a strong entrepreneurial spirit as we are always willing to be flexible. The reason that we have expanded quicker than the competition is that we consider the owner, from all aspects. This is one of the many reasons the group is such an ideal fit in Nigeria.

Nigeria do you plan to open your hotel?

We’ve signed deals in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Abeokuta. It’s an ever-changing answer as there are continuous developments. For instance we are operating in Abeokuta and Lagos in which we currently have a Radisson Blu in Victoria Island as well as in Ikeja. We are also  looking at Apapa, Abuja and Port Harcourt, amongst many other territories. As location is a critical component to the hospitality industry, we look for business and leisure hubs. Important factors include our ability to support the developers and the owners as we want to operate profitable hotels.

As hoteliers, we follow the mileage. As per the classic business cycle, once the primary industries open up in a market, the hotelier follows and thereafter the leisure aspect. In terms of the economy it is recovering with the GDP positive again in 2018 and the oil price is back to $70. It is evident that there are a lot of candles flickering for things to move. With a presence in 30 African markets and 40 hotels operating for 120 million people is quite good.

What is your brand’s unique selling point?

Our Radisson Blu hotels are sophisticated, iconic and stylish. This hotel, the Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos Ikeja, came to us on a change of operator. However, if you look at the various aspect of the hotel from the, especially the aesthetics, it fits the Radisson Blu brand perfectly.

Further than aesthetics, Radisson Blu has a world renowned service philosophy, better known as ‘Yes I can’ and it extends beyond the simple expectation of our guests, it indicates that we anticipate the needs of our customers.

Rilwan Akiolu, Oba of Lagos at the launch of Radisson Blu, Ikeja

We pride ourselves on the fact that we engage with the guests on a much more personal level. Hoteliers are seen to simply sell rooms and conference spaces, we however strive to provide an experience by creating memorable moments for our guests. That is the competitive advantage we have over others.

What is the difference between Radisson Blu Anchorage in Victoria Island and Radisson Blu in Ikeja?

Radisson Blu Ikeja is located in a business district whereas Radisson Blu Anchorage is situated on Victoria Island, which provides a mix of business and a strong leisure component.

What plans does Radisson Blu have about security as a major challenge in Nigeria; in reference to an incident in Bamako, Mali, in 2015?

Bamako has changed us and it’s changed our company. We have learned a great deal from Bamako as well as many other incidences which have happened globally, not only to us or our industry but to other territories and industries. We have a strong safety and security team and multiple measures in place to detect, avoid and manage various crisis instances, with regular trainings for the broader teams, most importantly, the hotel staff.

Kazeem Tajudeen, executive director, Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Limited ; Tosin Adefeko, managing partner, AT3 Resources; Olaitan Tajudeen, director legal, Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Limited; George Balassis, general manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos Ikeja; and Ahmed Tajudeen, director of projects Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Limited, at the press conference announcing the partnership between Radisson Blu and Avalon Intercontinental Nigeria Limited.

What makes you stand out in the face of competition?

We compete very strongly with our competitors as we offer facilities and services that are unmatched. Even though we have world class hotels and the most passionate teams, we remain a company with a strong entrepreneurial mindset. Our relationships with all our stakeholders from our guests to our owners, employees and suppliers are our priority. The value of these relationships definitely make us stand out from the crowd.

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