Digital Transformation: An Interview with Raul Alvarez Barrera on Radisson Hotel Group’s Journey

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Digital Transformation: An Interview with Raul Alvarez Barrera on Radisson Hotel Group’s Journey — Photo by Shiji

Digital transformation is reshaping guest experiences and operational efficiencies at Radisson Hotel Group. In this interview with Raul Alvarez Barrera, Global VP of Digital, we explore their journey, the impact of visual content, and the strategic use of data.

Radisson Hotel Group is recognised for its Digital vision. Our forward-thinking digital strategy, especially our Radisson Hotels App, immersive experiences, and localisation strategy, is highly recognised by industry leaders and organisations. RAUL ALVAREZ BARRERA

Can you share some insights on the challenges and successes you experienced during your digital transformation at Radisson Hotel Group?

Radisson’s digital transformation journey unfolded in distinct phases and is still ongoing. This is an always-evolving exercise in our Digital Experience Center of Excellence DNA.

In the first phase, we embarked on a strategic consolidation, migrating ten separate brand websites into a single, unified platform. This streamlined presence established a strong foundation in the competitive digital landscape, generating operational excellence and content efficiency.

RADISSON’S TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY — Source: ShijiRADISSON’S TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY — Source: Shiji

Following this, we focused on enriching the customer experience and maximising conversions. Localisation, personalisation, and immersive experiences were key components in this phase. Developing a robust mobile app, a revamped loyalty program, and a review of online pricing strategies (member-only and app-only rates, for example) marked a significant milestone in our digital transformation.

What role did visual content management play in your digital transformation efforts, and what measurable impacts did it have on customer engagement and direct bookings?

Visual assets are a big part of the customer journey and normally entice them to move forward in the purchasing funnel. One size does not fit all. We want to differentiate our hotels and their characteristics. Working on the property page customisation will allow us to showcase the best USPs of each product. When our guests approach these hotel types, their buying intentions differ. The customisation of the hotel pages aims to respond to their different needs. Resorts, Luxury (upscale), Business, and Airport hotels are just the beginning.

In our transformation, we examined visual assets in detail, audited outdated images, and enabled additional types of visual assets for web use, such as videos, 360 tours, and immersive content. This resulted in a greater engagement rate and an increase in conversion rates.

Could you provide examples of the types of visual content that proved most effective in driving direct revenue, and how did you ensure this content was consistently high-quality and relevant across various digital platforms?

We are actively searching and testing new ways to engage with our customers, providing them with the type of content they want. An experience for every audience.

As an example:

We discovered that immersive content provokes more client interactions and provides additional opportunities to view public spaces and accommodation.

How did you integrate improved visual content management with your existing digital marketing and communication channels to maximise its impact on direct revenue?

We have defined the strategy for integrating the content produced by the Field Activators on the website. This content can add significant value to six key sections: property pages, brand corners, destination pages, new and upcoming pages, blogs, and merchandising landing pages.

RADISSON’S MAIN KPI’S TO TRACK — Source: ShijiRADISSON’S MAIN KPI’S TO TRACK — Source: Shiji

How has mastering data influenced your strategic decisions in leading digital efforts at Radisson Hotels, and can you provide examples of how data has driven significant improvements?

Data is critical for every decision. For instance, if you want to be relevant, you need to localise content. To decide if a hotel page or content should be translated into a given language, there will be a return of the cost due to acquired bookings; in this case, we analyse what is the browser language preference of the users interested in that content and property.

Another example where data is key is deciding whether it is worth cannibalising some web conversions to encourage new visitors to download the app. A third example is personalisation; the feeder market seasonality demand guides our geo-targeting efforts, allowing us to target the right product at the right moment.

What customer-centric digital initiatives have you implemented at Radisson Hotels that have significantly enhanced guest satisfaction and loyalty?

Radisson Hotel Group is recognised for its Digital vision. Our forward-thinking digital strategy, especially our Radisson Hotels App, immersive experiences, and localisation strategy, is highly recognised by industry leaders and organisations. Our digital experience journey is reaching new heights and helping Brand Web contribute to growth. At this pace, we will be the first digital channel by 2026.

RECOGNITION OF RADISSON’S DIGITAL STRATEGY — Source: ShijiRECOGNITION OF RADISSON’S DIGITAL STRATEGY — Source: Shiji

Four assets are particularly recognised and contributing to this growth in Experience: our RHG App, our localisation strategy capturing existing and new demand, our Meetings & Events Digital assets, and our Immersive Experience strategy.

How is Radisson leveraging digital channels to enhance customer engagement before, during, and after their stays? Can you provide examples of successful digital marketing or communication campaigns?

We have a program called Radisson+.

RADISSON + DIGITAL GUEST JOURNEY — Source: ShijiRADISSON + DIGITAL GUEST JOURNEY — Source: Shiji

What emerging digital trends do you foresee having the most impact on the hospitality industry, and how is Radisson Hotels preparing to leverage these trends?

Of course, AI has multiple aspects, not only for operational efficiency or product recommendation. Another big trend for us is the need for our guests to see “real guest experiences.” With that in mind, there are now larger teams in local markets called Content Field Activators to capture those moments.

What key performance indicators (KPIs) have you established to measure the success of digital transformation initiatives at Radisson Hotels, and what tools and technologies do you use to track and analyse these KPIs?

We use a combination of several KPIs to get a holistic view of the success of digital transformation. Then, combine business KPIs, like the direct share contribution to the company, with the Web and APP performance KPIs, including conversion rate, to other KPIs that indicate engagement, like bounce rate, scroll rate, or error rate. We combine the BI tool for business metrics with Digital Experience Analytics (DXA) Tools like Quantum Metric, which offers a detailed analysis of every customer journey. In addition, listening to our customers is the best KPI, so we display an online survey of satisfaction, asking our customers to rate the experience from 1 to 5; we segment this rating and follow the evolution to understand how our customer perceives the experience.

How are AI and automation utilised at Radisson Hotels to streamline operations and improve guest experiences? What future plans do you have for these technologies?

With the help of our technology partners and leveraging capabilities natively to their tools, we’ve been able to automate digital assets galleries for both responsive web and app, allowing properties to manage the order of the visual assets and add or remove assets when needed directly. Regarding AI, our latest foray into this world has to do with localisation; we incorporated AI in the form of a large language model into our translation ecosystem and, in fact, have recently launched two new languages using the technology: Japanese & Korean. AI and human reviewers have allowed us to launch two languages efficiently and at a reduced cost!

Can you share an example of a situation in which you had to adjust your digital strategy based on KPI performance data and the outcome of this adjustment?

As we discussed previously, deciding which languages we offer online is one example of which type of content we offer to which segment.

Key Takeaways

Continuous Evolution: Digital transformation is an ongoing process that requires strategic planning and continuous adaptation.

Visual Content: Customising visual content to suit different hotel types and guest preferences significantly boosts engagement and conversion rates.

Data-Driven Decisions: Leveraging data for localisation, app downloads, and personalisation enhances the relevance and effectiveness of digital strategies.

Customer-Centric Initiatives: Innovative digital strategies, such as the Radisson Hotels App and immersive experiences, significantly enhance guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Emerging Trends: Embracing AI and real guest experiences is critical to staying ahead in the hospitality industry.

Conclusion

Raul articulates Radisson Hotel Group’s digital transformation journey, which underscores the importance of a strategic, data-driven approach to digital innovation. By focusing on visual content, customer-centric initiatives, and emerging digital trends, Radisson is poised to deliver exceptional guest experiences and operational efficiencies.

About Raul

Raul Alvarez Barrera, Vice President of Global Digital Experience at Radisson Hotel Group, is a customer-focused visionary with over 25 years of international digital expertise. Passionate about digital innovation, Raul has excelled in delivering top-tier products and experiences by integrating AI and advanced technologies. His work has earned him global recognition, including awards for digital transformation, technology utilization, and strategy.

At Radisson, Raul has successfully implemented digital transformation strategies that have profoundly impacted business operations across EMEA and APAC. For instance, in 2019, he streamlined the group’s web presence from ten separate websites into a unified multi-brand platform. Consequently, this led to a 44% increase in online direct contributions and a fourfold revenue boost through the app within two years. Additionally, his efforts have achieved a 30% increase in conversion rates and record EBITDA levels. As a Talent Ambassador, Raul builds strong digital teams and Centers of Excellence, achieving remarkable results through collaboration. He proudly recognizes his second digital transformation as a career milestone, underscoring his commitment to driving digital success.

About Shiji Group

Shiji is a multi-national technology company that provides software solutions and services for enterprise companies in the hospitality, food service, retail and entertainment industries, ranging from hospitality technology platform, hotel property management solutions, food and beverage and retail systems, payment gateways, data management, online distribution and more. Founded in 1998 as a network solutions provider for hotels, Shiji Group today comprises over 5,000 employees in 80+ subsidiaries and brands in over 31 countries, serving more than 91,000 hotels, 200,000 restaurants and 600,000 retail outlets. For more information, visit www.shijigroup.com.

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Shiji

Berlin10405
Germany

www.shijigroup.com

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