Redefining Hospitality: Radisson Hotel Group's Ramsay Rankoussi
"At the heart of Radisson Hotel Group is our brand promise– every moment matters."
Having been part of the Radisson Hotel Group for over six years leading its development efforts in various mandates, Ramsay Rankoussi was recently appointed the enterprise’s Vice President and Head of Development for Africa and Turkey, after previously overseeing its strategic growth across the Middle East, Turkey, and French-speaking Africa. In an interview with Entrepreneur Middle East, Rankoussi shared his thoughts on the road ahead for Radisson, as well as the hospitality industry as a whole:
What do you think are the three most important facets of Radisson Hotel Group in the MENA region, especially in the current market climate?
Our development team is at the heart of our growth strategy, and they all are individually and collectively translating it to execution. We have created a dual approach regarding our growth strategy in particular for Africa. One part concentrates on focus countries, while the other centers around creating clusters; both resulting in critical mass and a scale strategy.
Each member of our development team leads through this approach with both the proximity of their geographical zone, as well as, and very importantly, their cultural and language understanding, reinforcing our alignment with each focus market- North Africa, Francophone, and Anglophone Africa.
Another significant factor which drives our ability to succeed in establishing long-term partnerships with our investment community is our responsivenessalways quick to provide answers and support, our pragmatic design approach, our transparency throughout the process, in combination with our continuous guidance throughout each phase, including construction and financing.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis. Source: Radisson Hotel Group
Can you explain how the aforementioned factors relate to and complement the brand value of the Group?
At the heart of Radisson Hotel Group is our brand promise– every moment matters. It is simply how we do business, and who we are at the core.
Relating to our core beliefs, I think the following reflects what makes us apart, but also the reason why many investor, guests, and employees have decided to either work or stay with us.
On our people– we grow talent, and talent grows us. This shows the trust and empowerment in every single team member we demonstrate, but also the mutual humility in allowing new thinking, innovative ideas and constant desire for improvement.
On our relationships– we value open and direct interactions to build trust. We have always shown transparency in our business dealings, and we value honest and open discussions in every partnership we enter into, but we have also learned to listen to feedback, further improving our offerings and tailored solutions.
Finally, on our diversity– we are many minds with one mindset. We believe in cultural diversity, and we operate in most countries further translating our ambitions to become a true global catalyst of growth, inclusion, and opportunities.
Have the past few months affected Radisson’s pipeline, and what do you think the long-term effect will be on the MENA hospitality industry?
We have obviously witnessed delays on sites due to the lack of movement of goods, but also of people. Some countries have had more restrictions than others, but overall, we have seen most of our pipeline in line with schedule, with delays not expected to exceed six to nine months. A natural decision is to reassess the timing of opening, as while a property could be completed on time, it is also important to ensure its opening in a positive commercial environment, so that preservation of cash and liquidity is ensured to our owners.
Our growth objectives remain unchanged for the region, but Africa will represent the biggest land of opportunities, while the Middle East will represent a priority of conversions of operating hotels willing to join our network. Across the African continent we are working on offering tailored solutions for green-fields and takeovers, and we are geared up to further accelerate our growth journey in key countries.
Hormuz Grand Muscat Waterside Terrace. Source: Radisson Hotel Group
What sectors and geographies do you see the biggest demand for hotels in the MENA region right now, and which of Radisson’s brands complement them?
Egypt and Morocco represent two of our focus countries in the region, and the opportunities exist in every segment– from the midscale Park Inn by Radisson brand, to the upscale Radisson but also lifestyle Radisson Red, our core upper-upscale brand Radisson BLU, but also our entry level luxury, Radisson Collection.
Morocco is one of our top priorities, as we seek to accelerate our presence from two operating hotels to over 15 hotels within the next five years. We will also focus on reinforcing our operational strength in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah with the ambition to reach over 5,000 rooms in the coming years between the two. Our regional strategy remains on creating scale further helping us to translate clustering efficiencies across every segment we represent.
Finally, what’s your outlook for the hotel group for the rest of 2020?
The priority for everyone is the preservation of capital and liquidity, as cash flows are negatively impacted with the reduction or absence of any inflows during the various lockdowns. Both owners and operators will work hand in hand to protect their capital, but also minimize the impact on employees to preserve as much as possible job safety and security during these difficult times. Our ambitions across the region remains the same, and we are further accelerating our development priorities to assist owners in needs with conversion solutions and creative commercial offerings. There will also be an acceleration of newer technology that was ongoing, but now will just be implemented at a faster pace and across many touch points of the industry
LEADING THE WAY: Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President and Head of Development for Africa and Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group
Based in Dubai, Ramsay leads Radisson Hotel Group’s strategic growth across Africa and Turkey with a team based in Dubai and Cape Town. Ramsay Rankoussi has been with the company for more than six years and has recently been appointed to lead Radisson Hotel Group’s growth in Africa. The appointment reinforces Radisson Hotel Group’s confidence that Africa continues to be a region of growth.Tasked with increasing the Group’s hotel portfolio and footprint in his assigned markets, the Group’s largest geographical area, Ramsay is an expert dealmaker, leading transactions from sourcing through to execution.
Hormuz Grand, A Radisson Collection Hotel. Source: Radisson Hotel Group
Radisson Hotel Group’s development and growth strategy in Africa follows a two-fold approach. The first part concentrates on focus countries while the second centers around creating key hubs. By creating a mass city scale development strategy with a focus on key countries and surrounding markets including Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, the group’s ‘hub approach’ ensures synergy among neighboring countries and creates further value for its hotels, in terms of both development and operations. Each member of Radisson Hotel Group’s development team is a leader in this approach because of their geographical proximity as well as their local cultural knowledge and linguistic understanding of each focus market.
Ramsay is proficient in legal contract negotiations, due diligence, and financial analysis. He oversees the underwriting, strategic planning, investment analysis and asset management activities for all type of deal structuring, including conversions and take overs, financial commitments, franchise and straight management agreements. A Belgian national, Ramsay is fluent in multiple languages and with a multi-cultural background. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an MBA specialized in Hotel Real Estate Finance and Asset Management from the ESSEC Business School (IMHI) in Paris.