Jin Jiang International has made its first strategic move with Radisson since acquiring the group in 2018, launching a co-branded hotel.
The pair were planning more than 30 such properties across EMEA, as outbound travel from China grew.
The Radisson Blu in Frankfurt was due to be the first hotel to be cobranded, thanks to Frankfurt airport’s position as a hub for Chinese travellers. Menus and welcome cards will be available in Chinese, with payment using Chinese Union cards. In the guest rooms there will be tea kettles and a choice of Chinese teas, while Chinese television channels and Chinese newspapers will be available via the Radisson Blu One Touch app.
To facilitate the booking process for Chinese-speaking travellers, 53 Radisson Hotel Group properties will be featured on the WeHotel Platform, Jin Jiang International’s global hotel booking platform, with the remaining hotels due to be added in the coming months.
As part of the collaboration, Radisson Rewards and We Hotel Prime, the loyalty programme for Jin Jiang’s high-end hotels, were planning to provide “localised, in-hotel benefits to members of both programmes”.
Radisson CEO Federico J González Tejera said: “We are keen on offering the leading hotel brands from Radisson Hotel Group to guests, owners and talent around the world. The launch of the first co-branded hotel with Jin Jiang International is an important milestone in reaching this goal. The co-branded hotels have a bright future, with the potential to extend to more than 30 properties across EMEA – including five Radisson Collection hotels in key destinations for Chinese travellers.”
Chen Liming, vice chairman of Jin Jiang International, said: “We are thrilled that we will now take the next step in our journey together after the acquisition. China has become the world’s largest travel market, offering a wealth of opportunity and potential. Co-branded hotels are positioned to not only improve awareness of our Chinese and Radisson brands in EMEA and China respectively, but also promote people-to-people exchanges between China and the rest of the world.”
Jin Jiang has now taken control of both the Radisson Hotel Group and Radisson Hospitality, after acquiring majority stakes from HNA Group.
Radisson Hospitality delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange in March, after a drawn-out process which saw Jin Jiang increase its holding to 94.12% through its Aplite vehicle in February and announce plans to commence a squeeze-out procedure to acquire all remaining shares.
Jin Jiang achieved the stake after increasing its offer of SKr40 per share to SKr42.50 after Radisson Hospitality had described the price as “not fair from a financial point of view.”
In the US Jin Jiang had a more straightforward journey, completing at the end of last year. John Kidd, CEO & COO, Radisson Hospitality, with responsibility for the corporate offices and hotels in the Radisson Hotel Group portfolio throughout the Americas and Asia Pacific, said: “This marks yet another incredible milestone in our company’s storied history and one that I’m confident will elevate Radisson Hotel Group to a new level of strength as a global leader in the hospitality industry. When we announced our re-branding earlier this year to Radisson Hotel Group, we shared our vision for the company, which was to be the company of choice for guests, owners and talent.
“We are now owned by one of the leading travel and hospitality companies – the fifth-largest hotel company in the world. Additionally, Jin Jiang’s loyalty programme encompasses more than 100 million members. This type of size, coupled with the record number of Chinese consumers traveling abroad, provides a number of new opportunities for Radisson Hotel Group. The consortium led by Jin Jiang will work with us to improve and execute our five-year plan.”
HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Making hotels friendlier for Chinese guests has been in the works for a number of hotel companies for some time – there are expected to be, oh, a stack of people visiting from China you know – even if it has only really been IHG with Hualuxe which has put its money and its kettles where its mouth is. Anyone resident in a tourist-heavy town will be long familiar with Union Pay signs in the more alert shops.
What makes this latest move more interesting is that it marks the first time which Jin Jiang has set out to do anything with that which it acquired from HNA Group. Not a deal heralded with much enthusiasm on Jin Jiang’s part at the time, with the impression given that it was bailing the over-extended HNA out. Observers of Jin Jiang were much more interested in what Jin Jiang was up to with its Accor stake.
Now the wheels of this massive group have started to grind and, as the saying goes, though “the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small”. Without wishing to see Jin Jiang as a higher power, it has the potential to have a great impact and, now it is moving, we wonder what its next move in Europe will be. While Accor is unlikely to be prised out of French hands, there is plenty else floating around which would fit well into the stable.
Additional comment [by Andrew Sangster]: Jin Jiang is, when you combine Louvre, Radisson and the Chinese companies, the second biggest hotel chain globally, just behind Marriott and ahead of Hilton.
While it doesn’t quite feel that it is a global giant, yet these latest moves could well be a start in shifting that perception.
Following Jin Jiang’s acquisition of Louvre in 2015, there was an expectation that Jin Jiang would become a major presence within Europe. But that has not happened. Louvre is predominately an economy and midscale chain where domestic guests dominate, and this is perhaps why Jin Jiang has been careful not to put its stamp on Louvre in a prominent way.
With Radisson, however, Jin Jiang has an upscale brand with a global footprint that can serve as the gateway to a more explicitly Chinese feel to the hotels.
At first, it looked like China’s push into the West was going to be spearheaded by private companies such as HNA, Wanda, Anbang and Fosun. Today, only Fosun still looks to be in the acquisition game with the reins elsewhere handed to State-Owned Enterprises like Jin Jiang.
The advantage China has in the hospitality game is not dissimilar to the US whose brands currently dominate the West. China, like the US, has a relatively unified home market where it has been possible to establish a meaningful scale, which is then the launchpad for overseas expansion. Both countries contrast with the fragmented nature of the European hotel market.
China started with a disadvantage compared to the West in that its hotel industry was less developed and the skills sets of its executives similarly falling short of the best. But it has rapidly caught up. Now the question is whether it can compete with the strongest US chains.