Brand Preview: Radisson all set to paint the town Red with new Dubai launch

An inside look at the soon-to-be-launched Radisson Red brand

Operators, Radisson hotel group, Radisson red, Lifestyle brand

There’s no denying that millennial-friendly hotel brands are making a big push in Dubai. With the entry of brands such as Aloft, Element, Zabeel House and Rove, a revolution is brewing with midscale and upscale brands making their mark in the region and operators eschewing five-star hotels for  more affordable and trendy design concepts. These brands are about to get another addition in Dubai.

The newly christened Radisson Hotel Group is also set to make its mark in this sector with the mid-2019 debut of the region’s first Radisson Red hotel in Dubai in Silicon Oasis.

Speaking to Hotelier Middle East, Ramsay Rankoussi, vice president, business development – Middle East, North Africa & Turkey said: “Radisson Red was established to capture the trend of something new, something innovative. We speak about integration of technology, a social space and hub dedicated to the millennials.”

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According to Rankoussi, Radisson Red will be a fresh addition to the UAE hotel market,which still seems to have a heavy presence of luxury hotels, but is witness to a growing demand for midscale and upscale hotels, as well as places where people can share and connect in a flexible and fun environment.

When the project was announced in 2016, the then-Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group had aimed to introduce the lifestyle select brand to Dubai  by Q3 2018. However, two years after the brand launch in 2016 in Brussels, construction is well underway for the hotel as it is part of the US $353.9m  Smart City project in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Since its launch in Europe, the brand has evolved and expanded to other cities in South Africa, Brazil, Scotland, and the United States.

The brand’s pipeline also includes new hotel projects in China’s Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Mohali in India. These planned hotels will keep Radisson Hotel Group on track to meet its goal of having more than 200 hotels open or in development by 2022 in South Asia.

Radisson Red’s initial launch was met with criticism on social media, with some questioning both its price structure and design. However, Rankoussi tells us the brand in itself has evolved from its launch in 2016.

“We now have a brand much more focused on good design as opposed to a dominant colour. We still love the fact that it is an informal and friendly hotels concept where we take care of the essentials, like free high speed WiFi. We have developed our Red app to create a unique model that leaves our guests in control — from keyless entry to requesting extra pillows  —  the app gives guests what they need when they want it but also allows them to interact with our team at the hotel for everything else they may need,” he says.

The brand positioning could be slightly confusing for consumers as the Dubai hotel will be a four-star in this market, sitting above mid-scale but just under upper upscale. Rankoussi  has a clear vision for the segment the brand will sit under, specifying that Radisson Red is an upscale, select-service hotel brand that presents a playful twist on the “conventional hotel”.

“Radisson Red hotels inject new life into hospitality through informal services where anything goes, a social scene that’s waiting to be shared and bold design that kickstarts the fun,” he adds.

The pricing of the hotel, however, is unclear. Rankoussi says: “Pricing will obviously depend on the location and market conditions. In general, we position the brand as an upscale lifestyle brand; so the rates we promote will be in line with similarly positioned brands. And while price is important, we are not looking at positioning Red purely through price. Instead, we look at the unique brand personality and features to drive demand.”

For Radisson Hotel Group, the objective is to develop its presence in the lifestyle segment through design hotels and create a less stereotypical concept. Rankoussi believes upscale select-service is a new, fast-growing segment; it generates higher profit margins and lower cost per key compared to the full service model. From an owner’s perspective, the real estate is optimised while back-of-house costs are minimised.

Historically, Radisson Red hotels are located in vibrant, urban locations where travellers have the opportunity to tailor their stay according to their style. The Dubai hotel too, fits into this niche. However, when asked how the brand would differentiate itself from other millennial-focused hotels, Rankoussi’s answer was a bit open-ended.  “Radisson Red is inspired by music, art and fashion, and while these maybe similar references points for other ‘millennial-minded’ brands, we feel Red’s casual and cool communal spaces will attract a social, connected and tech-focused audience,” he adds. The brand is “dynamic and designed with attitude and the perfect fit” for a diverse city such as Dubai.

Emphasising the strong demand for the hotel in the sector, he says, “We are looking forward to seeing the market reaction in Dubai especially, as we see the continuing growth of lifestyle brands in the market.”

The launch of Radisson Red in Silicon Oasis is in line with the company’s goal to strengthen its presence in key markets such as Dubai. The hotel also hopes to be at the forefront of the UAE’s efforts to digitise, including a goal to become an artificial intelligence (AI) leader.

Technology represents an important part of the value proposition to the brand’s targeted millennial guests. The typical Radisson Red hotel provides technology services at every touchpoint of the guest experience: from pre-stay to post-stay, online check-in/out, instant messaging, mobile apps, social media, Bluetooth speakers and TV mirroring, digital walls, USB charging, and a convenient virtual concierge app.

In addition, Rankoussi said the brand understands that new travellers want to share their experience on social media. They also need to work and to have an easy access to documents and information. The design of Red hotels provides the perfect canvas for today’s socially active travellers to connect and share content easily.

Its brand vision is “a new hotel philosophy that connects with an ageless millennial mindset though art, music, and fashion.”

Seemingly unfazed by the upcoming launch, Rankoussi says:  “As with any brand launch, the first challenge is to raise awareness and communicate the brand to its target audience. Obviously with a lifestyle brand like Red, there will be a strong focus on social media, PR and digital marketing. We have recent experience of successful launches in new markets such as Cape Town and can learn from our experiences of such launches. We believe we have a strongly defined proposition which will differentiate us from our competitors. And, of course, being located in an exciting new development in Dubai, we are confident of succeeding.”

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