Radisson Hotel Group’s new Area Senior Vice President for UK, Ireland & Western Europe (UKIWE), Tom Flanagan Karttunen, speaks to Hotel Designs about project pipelines and where, geographically, is the next hotel hotspot…
Tom Flanagan Karttunen joined Radisson Hotel Group more than 20 years ago and has grown within the company, holding different leadership positions in numerous business areas at Radisson Blu Hotels in Copenhagen, Beijing, Manama, Hamburg and Galway. He has served as District Director Turkey, Azerbaijan & China, based in Istanbul, before being appointed as Area Vice President Eastern Europe & Russia, based in Moscow in 2009, and then Area Senior Vice President, Northern Europe. Most recently, though, he has become the group’s new Area Senior Vice President for UK, Ireland & Western Europe.
Hamish Kilburn: What have you identified as being the main areas of change in your 20 years at Radisson?
Tom Flanagan Karttunen: Radisson Hotel Group has made huge progress during my time with the company and is a leader in the hospitality industry, with properties situated in the heart of key global destinations. In 2019, Jin Jiang International acquired Radisson Hotel Group, becoming the second largest hotel chain in the world by number of rooms. Despite rapid growth, we have retained a customer centric approach, delivering best-in-class service to our guests. This is helped by our teams providing outstanding, personalised experiences and our hotels showcasing iconic, sophisticated and stylish design. My team and I have worked extremely hard to reposition our Northern Europe offering through an extensive renovation programme over the last few years, all with the aim of improving guest experience. With my expanded role, I now look forward to the opportunities to develop the UK, Ireland & Western Europe portfolio.
HK: Can you tell us a bit more about where, geographically, the brand is developing its portfolio within UK, Ireland and Western Europe?
TFK: There are exciting openings in the pipeline and large-scale renovations underway across the region in global hubs such as London, Madrid, Paris and Brussels. These projects include introducing the Radisson Collection and Radisson RED brands to countries and major cities where they don’t yet have a presence. For example, later this year we will open a Radisson RED in Greenwich, London, close to The O2, the world’s busiest concert and events venue.
“Beyond 2020, we already have more than 60 hotels in the pipeline for the region and no doubt more exciting developments to come.” – Tom Flanagan Karttunen, Area Senior Vice President for UK, Ireland & Western Europe
HK: Your new role requires you to grow talent, what do you look for in your employees?
TFK: At Radisson Hotel Group, we are lucky to have the best talent in the industry. We value employees that embody our values and are willing to go the extra mile to give our guests exceptional service. Also, we are proud to have an international employee base that can understand how guest expectations differ between countries and regions, and therefore deliver the best possible service and experience.
HK: How many hotels is the group planning on opening this year? Can you divide into brands?
TFK: Across EMEA, we are on track to introduce 30 new offerings to the market within 2020, which are either new properties or significant renovations. Beyond 2020, we already have more than 60 hotels in the pipeline for the region and no doubt more exciting developments to come. In the UK, Ireland & Western Europe, our brands of focus for openings are Radisson Collection, Radisson RED and Radisson, our Scandinavian-inspired upscale brand, which is yet to arrive in the region.
Main image credit: Radisson Hotel Group