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"I spend 250 days a year away from home & # 39;


Federico J. GonzálezImage copyright


Federico has moved since leaving Madrid at the age of 18

The BBC The Boss series weekly features different business leaders from all over the world. This week we speak with Federico González, chairman of the Radisson Hotel Group.

Federico González spends 250 days a year from home.

But the 55-year-old Spaniard doesn't need to worry about finding a place to stay when he runs around the world.

However, the boss of the Radisson Hotel Group which has 1,400 strong locations admitted that he could be a big nuisance for staff when he booked somewhere.

"If the CEO comes, it's a nightmare for them, everyone tries to be nice, but actually, it distracts them from helping other customers."

In top office for the past two years, a recent business trip made him stay in St. Petersburg for three days, Moscow for two people, Shanghai for two people, and Bangkok for one person.

The only two cities where Radisson hotel staff do not face interference from those who book rooms are Madrid and Brussels, because he maintains homes in both capitals. Madrid is where he was born and raised, while the company has its headquarters in Belgium.

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Speaking at the May Fair Hotel in London, Federico said that a good hotel must create lasting positive memories

The work of such a world runner is suitable for Federico, who speaks four languages, and has been traveling nervously since leaving "the traditional Madrid middle class home" at the age of 18.

In a mission to broaden his horizons, while studying at Complutense University of Madrid, his journey began in northern England in 1982.

"I came to Sheffield and Chesterfield at the student camp," said Federico, who sits at the five-star May Fair hotel in central London. "Then I became a tutor for Spanish students who came to England to live with an English family to study English."

During this time Federico acted as a guide, showing students around London. That helped him hone his English, and he finally applied for the first job in the corporate world.

"I'm 24, and I saw a job ad at my university for [consumer goods firm] Procter and Gamble [P&G], "he said." They need Spanish and English speakers, I got an interview. And when they ask me, 'Do you prefer to work in finance or marketing?', I ask them what marketing is. I do not know! "

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From his tenure at Disneyland Paris, Federico learned about the 'importance of remembering'

After doing a quick research, Federico chose marketing, and immediately rose through the ranks of the Spanish P&G. When he left the company in 2004, he was the head of the Portuguese division.

Then came his first foray into hospitality by moving to Disneyland Paris as deputy general manager. So what did he learn from days spent in brotherhood with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck? "I realize everything about experience, and the importance of remembering."

In 2013, he moved to the hotel trade, running the Spanish NM Hotel business. He took the top job at Radisson in 2017, and said he was still obsessed with the need to give customers positive memories.

"Bathing is not a shower, that is [has to be] 'Wow shower', "Federico said." It's about putting temptation in a room – chocolate that you might bring home. Or if someone is alone in the room, they might think 'no one is watching so I will eat it.'

"It's the small elements that together with location, decoration and people, make the experience memorable."

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Airbnb has pushed demand for "non-identical hotels", said Alice Hancock of the Financial Times

But with the hotel industry facing a lot of pressure, such as a slowing economy, environmentalists who want to see less air travel, and competition from Airbnb, what other ways can stand out from hoteliers?

"How do you distinguish yourself from what appears to us to be a very saturated market?" said Alice Hancock, entertainment industry reporter for the Financial Times,

"That's the problem facing the whole industry. If you look at big names like Marriott, which has more than 30 brands. The idea is that each brand serves a different market segment – luxury, budget, travelers, etc. The advantage for large companies is they can have five or six hotels in the same radius, because they look different from consumers. "

Ms Hancock considers there are still many requests for hotel rooms, and understands the impact of Airbnb. Although he said that home rental sites have one definite effect – this has increased demand "for hotels that are not identical".

This is part of the reason business hotels like Marriott differentiate themselves. Radisson is no different, and now also has additional brands, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza, and Country Inn & Suites.

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Radisson's own ownership changed last year when it was sold to a consortium led by Jin Jiang International Holdings, a Chinese state-owned tourism company. Federico said the Chinese owner gave him the freedom to run a business.

"There are no jobs in a world where you have full control unless you have a company, and not even at that time, because maybe the bank will control it," he said. "What's important is that you have very clear rules. Do I have the freedom to do what I want to do? Yes."

There are several factors beyond its control, such as Brexit – which according to Federico has been "stable" for its chain so far. Radisson was also hit by data breaches in 2018, which affected members of their loyalty and reward schemes.

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Federico said corporate hotels were like having children

Federico was new to his job at the time of the cyber attack. "We implement the most stringent procedures, but there are always errors and failures," he said. "We have implemented a new protocol, and it is important to do the best you can, and react quickly, but no one can avoid it."

When the father of three adult children continues to visit many hotels every month, there is one thing he will not discuss – which one he likes best.

"Hotels are like children," he said. "There are no favorite children."

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