Red Lion’s new CEO talks go-forward strategy and strength of group travel

Greg Mount

Greg Mount, formerly the president of Richfield Hospitality, was named the new CEO of Red Lion Hotels in January.

Greg Mount, formerly the president of Richfield Hospitality, was named the new CEO of Red Lion Hotels in January.

 

Los Angeles – Sporting a bright pair of socks that equally matched his air, 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, with Hotel Management during the Americas Lodging Investment Summit.

Mount took over in January from interim CEO Jim Evans, who helped guide the company through its sale of non-strategic assets. Last November, Evans said, “The sale of non-strategic assets over the past few years, along with the refinancing of our debt, has considerably strengthened the balance sheet of Red Lion Hotels. We used proceeds from an asset sale in 2011 to purchase 10 previously leased properties which, along with refinancing the company’s maturing securitized debt, gave us control of our properties and the flexibility to divest non-strategic properties.”

At the time, Evans said the next steps included further asset disposals, more aggressive brand promotion and continued enhancements in owned and leased hotels, including funding significant renovations. (Evans remains a member of the Board of Directors.)

The 118-room Red Lion Inn & Suites Phoenix/Tempe – ASU is only one mile from Arizona State University.

The 118-room Red Lion Inn & Suites Phoenix/Tempe – ASU is only one mile from Arizona State University.

 

Enter Mount, who admitted in January it is still early to talk specifics about what his intentions are with the company. He did say that a primary reason he joined the company was because of its “overall culture and history.”

He also offered a taste of what could come for the company. “We will continue to accentuate what we have,” he said.

While Red Lion’s core business is on the West Coast, Mount said that “Manhattan plays well” for a Red Lion-branded property. He was not specific about if that could be an actual Red Lion-branded hotel, or a hotel within its soft brand, Leo Hotel Collection.

But don’t get too excited, yet. The East Coast is not presently in the cards for Red Lion. “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.”

MESSAGING

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. 

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