Red Lion's new CEO talk's go-forward strategy, strength of group

(Greg Mount)

Sporting a bright pair of socks that matched his attitude, Greg Mount, the new president and CEO of Red Lion Hotels, touched on his go-forward vision for the company, which primarily operates and owns upper-midscale hotels on the West Coast, during this past ALIS in Los Angeles.

Mount took over in January from interim CEO Jim Evans (Evans remains a member of the Board of Directors), who helped lead the company through its sale of non-strategic assets. 

While Mount said it's still a bit early too talk specifics about what his intentions are with the company, he said one of the primary reasons he joined the company was because of its "overall culture and history."

He did give Hotel Management a taste of what could come for the Spokane, Wash.-based company. "We will continue to accentuate what we have," he said. "Look to be opportunistic."

While Red Lions' core business is on the West Coast, Mount did admit that "Manhattan plays well" for a Red Lion-branded property.

However, the "focus will be west," he said, alluding to Seattle and San Francisco for starters. "Major brands have saturated those markets," he continued. "There is very little ADR separation. We see that as opportunity."

One of the more interesting points Mount made was that group business—reportedly still rolling along at a torpid pace—had a good year at Red Lion, with 2014 looking strong. "We’re seeing advances on the group side," he said. "SMERF business is strong."

One of the things that could change over time is Red Lion's messaging, Mount said. "It's going to evolve," he said. "We have to be on the cutting edge of technology and drive online business. The way that hotels are being consumed nowadays is so different. The channels are dynamic."

Above all, Mount continued to praise the overall culture of Red Lion. "The uniqueness of us is the culture," he said, recognizing first and foremost the legacy and warmth of the company's GMs, many of which have been with Red Lion for years.