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Making Moments Matter: Elie Milky, Vice President - Development (Middle East, Pakistan, Cyprus, And Greece), Radisson Hotel Group

"Our people are Radisson Hotel Group's biggest asset."

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Elie Milky is Vice President - Development for the Middle East, Pakistan, Cyprus, and Greece at Radisson Hotel Group. In an interview, Milky shared insights from his enterprise's latest moves in the hospitality sector:

Radisson Hotel Group

Radisson Hotel Group's portfolio in the Middle East has seen a lot of growth in the recent past- can you give us an overview of your group's current state of play in the region, and what are a couple of the latest openings or developments that you are especially excited about?

Our portfolio in the Middle East stands at 75 hotels, resorts, and serviced apartments with 16,000 keys in operation and under development, most of which were signed and opened in the last 10 years alone.

One interesting trend is how more and more serviced apartments became part of our portfolio, a pattern driven by investors and consumers alike as this asset class proved to be the most resilient hospitality model today. In our region alone, almost 50% of our portfolio has a serviced apartments component.

Another trend is how resorts became more popular driven by rising leisure demand, strong average rates and reduced seasonality. Around 90% of our resorts were signed in the last 10 years alone. Recent and upcoming openings in the region include Mansard Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Hotel, Radisson Riyadh Airport, Radisson Resort the Palm, and Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah, to name a few.

Mansard Riyadh, A Radisson Collection Hotel. Source: Radisson Hotel Group

What is your perspective on the acceleration in hotel development that we are currently seeing across the Middle East?

Hotel investment and development activity continues to grow given the underlying potential in the region. In countries such as the UAE, some markets are becoming more mature with select asset classes filling the remaining gaps in the hospitality landscape.

In other countries such as Saudi Arabia, the potential is massive as the Kingdom has room to double and triple its hospitality offering in the coming years. Investors look long-term when it comes to hospitality real estate, and we are working with them to deliver all the relevant product types and the suitable brand value proposition.

Considering the different markets in the region, Saudi Arabia is one that has been seeing a lot of interest from players in the hospitality sector of late. Can you tell us how Radisson is going about its efforts in in the Kingdom, and your predictions for the country's hospitality scene?

We have been active in the Saudi market for 20 years and had launched our expansion strategy for the Kingdom in 2010, helping us adapt to the various changes throughout. Recent developments to boost tourism and diversify the hospitality offering was something we had been working on long before the execution of this shift in strategy, which we were ready to complement with our strategic development plan. Today, we continue to expand our portfolio with key owners across Riyadh, Jeddah and the Holy Cities, as well as the secondary cities identified for expansion.

Our portfolio now covers our entire brand offering, from the midscale Park Inn by Radisson to the luxury Radisson Collection with two iconic properties in Riyadh. The mega developments in the Kingdom have, of course, brought about many opportunities, but greater still remain to be the onshore and private developments in the Holy Cities, the main cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as the secondary cities across the country which still lack quality hotel supply. Resorts, agro-tourism offerings, and lifestyle hotels will make the Kingdom even more appealing to international tourists as well as domestic visitors as such asset classes and product types are driven by the Ministry of Tourism as well as the Tourism Development Fund.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Riyadh Convention & Exhibition Center. Source: Radisson Hotel Group

Given all of your exploits in the region, how is the Radisson Hotel Group workforce being bolstered to be ready for whatever the future unfolds?

Our people are Radisson Hotel Group's biggest asset. Recently, Radisson Hotel Group has been ranked fourth in the Forbes Best Employer ranking in the Travel & Leisure industry globally. This is a great achievement made possible by our different teams who deliver memorable moments every day, everywhere, every time.

Following the gradual recovery of travel, hotels in various geographies have started recruitment drives to attract different talent profiles. These campaigns are centered around 'Be a Moment Maker,' our Employer Value Proposition. Meanwhile, we have also put significant efforts to implement a robust engagement plan to motivate, develop, and connect our teams with Radisson Hotel Group's business purpose.

Related: 2021, The Year That Was: Tim Cordon, Area Vice President for the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Radisson Hotel Group