Radisson Blu Brand Struggles in US, Concern Over Confusion w/ “Value Brand”

On April 1st, the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia changed its name to The Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square. The “un-branding” was part of a plan by the hotel owner who was scared that potential customers were confusing the upscale boutique hotel for the classic American value brand. The hotel was even willing to pay a break-up fee to rid itself of the Radisson name. A hotel specialist said “the brand was sort of dragging that hotel down”.

Owner Chartres Lodging Group instigated the change, effective April 1 to play up the historically resonant Warwick name while ensuring that guests don’t mistake the property for a “value-brand” Radisson, senior vice president Matthew Cox said. “There’s a potential for guests not to fully appreciate the difference between the value brand and the upper-upscale brand when they are making their reservations,” Cox said.

“What you know is ‘Radisson,’ and when you think of that brand, that brand has an OK reputation, not a spectacular reputation,” said the same hotel specialist.

It’s unfortunate as my Radisson Blu stays in Africa and Europe have been superb. The Radisson Blu name is established outside the US and there’s an expectation of high quality. However, I can certainly understand why Americans who have not stayed at a Blu property might see the name and not realize what the “Blu” moniker implies and therefore confuse it with the OK reputation for a traditional Raidsson.

We’ll have to see what happens with the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago and the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown and Mall of America locations.

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Comments

  1. I’m no Radisson aficionado (haven’t stayed in many of their properties, never had their credit card), but am a lifelong Philadelphian. I think what happened with the Warwick is compounded by the fact that, to this day, many of the ultra-lux hotels in Philadelphia use independent-style branding, whether or not they are in fact affiliated with a chain. This isn’t 100% the case, and will take a good whack when the new Four Seasons, W, and possibly SLS Hotels open in the next few years. But as of now, your top hotels that go by a big brand name include only Sofitel, Loews, and Ritz if my count is right. Kimpton has a couple of great hotels here (The Palomar and Hotel Monaco), but doesn’t stress the Kimpton name very much. Hyatt at the Bellevue is still known by many as simply The Bellevue owing to its very long, very cool history (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bellevue-Stratford_Hotel). The Logan just entered the Curio collection of Hilton, but you simply would not know it from their marketing. Then you’ve got true independents The Rittenhouse, The Latham (just closed) and The Warwick (back again). My point in this overly-long post being, older folks who are used to travelling to Philadelphia just MIGHT associate brand names here as lousy GENERALLY, not just with Radisson, because we really haven’t had very nice hotels that use big brand names. So I think Radisson Blu might have had an extra tough time here compared to other cities.

  2. The significant problem for Club Carlson is that this was one of the few really desirable American properties, and the CC credit card now gives one free night in a US hotel as one of its benefits. If there aren’t any hotels for which people actually want to use that benefit, more people will cancel the card.

  3. Why would the hotel upgrade and renovate to rebrand itself as a Radisson Blue from a Radisson only to turn around and say the Radisson name is dragging it down? Seem strange to me! Why not get out of your Radisson affiliation and then renovate to go to market as an independent?

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