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Radisson Red is going to be a hotel brand for millennials, and OH GOD THIS NARRATIVE IS NOW STARTING. Are the Baby Boomers dying off yet?

Radisson’s parent company is Carlson, which is based in Minnetonka, Minnesota — which is about 12-15 miles from where I’m typing this — so that means this conversation happened in Minnetonka sometime in the past two-three months.

UW-Wisconsin MBA graduate: The Boomers are dying off! We need a new brand!

UT-Austin MBA: We could maybe name it … after a color?

SVP: I LOVE IT! LET’S THROW A BILLION AT IT!

Northwestern MBA, in the corner: Um, the Boomers probably still have another 15-20 years of business travel, so…

SVP: SHUT UP, SANDERS!

That’s a close approximation of how the convo went, because here comes Radisson Red and 60 hotels by 2020:

Radisson, often considered a reliable, no-frills choice, plans for Red to be more daring. It will feature modern design with a large bar area. The hotel will allow guests to personalize their rooms to a larger degree than many of its peers.

Visitors, Carlson Rezidor says, will be able order a car to pick them up at the airport, request that the room’s minibar be stocked with certain drinks, order a sandwich to be waiting at the hotel’s 24-hour deli, and arrange for family photos to beam from the television screen when they enter their room. Guests will pay for these additional amenities on an a-la-carte basis.

“Red will focus on the younger traveler, but we see this as a long-term play,” says Gordon McKinnon, Carlson’s chief branding officer. He said the company expects the brand to evolve to keep up with “changes in attitudes and technologies.”

If you’re connecting the dots, McKinnon would be “SVP” in the dialogue above.

LARGER BAR AREA?!??!! Quelle scandale. 

On a more serious note, this is all kind of interesting. There’s an increasing narrative around “Boomers exiting stage left” and “millennials entering from the right.” If you watched the 60 Minutes profile of Jay Leno about two weeks before his retirement (?), most of the piece was centered around the Leno-to-Fallon transition being emblematic of something that’s going to happen across multiple brands and industries over the next two decades.

In that way, it is good for Carlson/Radisson to get out in front of this. And apparently, they still might be behind other brands:

Marriott International Inc. in 2011 joined with a Spanish hotel operator for a youth-oriented brand in Europe called AC Hotels by Marriott. The venture plans to bring AC Hotels to the U.S. later this year. Hyatt Hotels Corp. has been expanding the luxury-hotel brand Andaz, where roaming staff members use iPads to check in guests.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. recently said guests at some of its Aloft hotels will be able to use their mobile phones as virtual room keys. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., meanwhile, is gearing up to introduce a new boutique brand this year.

“Several of the brands are trying to anticipate the future and are putting in a lot of time, resources and energy,” says Cathy Enz, a professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

I’m not entirely sure whether “pictures of family members in the room” and “sandwiches waiting upon your arrival” and “larger bar area” are the future, per se — but I think they’re all nice touches. Business travel can suck, especially if you have a larger family / construe yourself as missing milestones in the lives of those you care about. I think millennials and Boomers probably appreciate similar things in this regard, which is to say “good customer service” and “cleanliness,” etc. The advent of technology is something that’s going to be a conversation in every industry. Hotels could do more about catering the experience based on past visits — almost like having a dossier on you — but in the broader scheme of things, business travel isn’t necessarily up to the traveler in terms of where they stay. It could be the relationships your company has, proximity to meetings, etc. For personal travel, I think people tend to go for the best price — although if the customer service and amenities were exemplary at Radisson Red, I’d consider paying $20 a night for it.

Here are some renderings of Radisson Red; the first one is supposed to open in 2015, although exact locations are not known yet. They plan to open about 12 per year resulting in 60 by 2020; broadly, Carlson wants 1,500 locations by 2015. They’re calling Radisson Red “lifestyle select,” which I’m sure a few people in the above imagined conversation have already abbreviated as “LS” on e-mails.

Can u get me specs on LS plz? Thx.

Here’s Hotel Indigo, which is a competing brand:

There’s been some humor on the social media front about this…

… but it is interesting to watch how businesses will try to react to millennials becoming the major working group (and thus traveling/earning group) in society. I’m sure a lot of those meetings described above will go off the rails in a hurry. I pity poor Sanders.

Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. Apparently my generation, Gen X, doesn’t exist according to marketers across the globe. Thank god, it’s nice to not have ‘content’ blasting at me from all angles.

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