Now Carlson is exploring a sale of its hotel business. The Club Carlson brands including Radisson and Park Inn would wind up part of another, larger chain.
Carlson Cos Inc., which owns the Radisson and Country Inns and Suites brands, is exploring “strategic alternatives” for its hotel unit that could include a sale, according to Thursday reports.
The hospitality and travel company, according to the Wall Street Journal, has asked Morgan Stanley to help it in the process of exploring the possibility of a merger, partnership or sale of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.
Hyatt, which failed in attempts to buy both Kimpton and Starwood, may believe it needs to bulk up if it’s going to survive independent of a larger chain. Although it’s not clear to me that the Radisson or Country Inn brands fit well into the Hyatt portfolio.
If you think Sheraton has consistency and branding challenges, Radisson has them doubly so at least in the U.S. Although it would give Hyatt a stronger European presence.
Wyndham could be a potential suitor. I expected that with the move of a significant amount of Starwood talent there over the past couple of years (so much so that the chain is sometimes referred to a ‘Wynwood’) that they’d be a real bidder for Starwood though they apparently weren’t a finalist.
In any of these scenarios, Club Carlson — which while offering limited elite benefits, has one of the most generous programs for free nights — presumably goes away. They’ve come a long way from when the hotel chain shared a loyalty program with TGI Friday’s (though which company you signed up for Goldpoints through determined your conversion rate from points to airline miles). It would be a shame, of course, to see fewer hotel loyalty programs on the chess board.
With potential tough times for the lodging industry on the horizon, consolidation could be required to stay profitable — a path that airlines pursued during this last economic cycle. It’s precisely how much consumers disliked airline mergers, and blame them for what ails travel, that makes them attractive. It boosts hotel bargaining power relative to consumers. And it reduces competitive pressure. At the same time it helps achieve a scale that’s attractive to large corporate buyers. Meanwhile, before times get tough is also when a hotel chain’s owner may believe they’re ideally situated to sell (“get out at the top”).