One of the most exciting aspects of travel is the possibilities it offers; business trips don’t have to be all about business, and being on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t learn something new about history or the culture you’re exploring. For a growing number of people around the world, memorable experiences are the new wealth — the people you meet and the things you see are far more valuable than the things you buy.

Any time you travel is an opportunity to make a difference – for yourself or others. Travel is never just about a meeting, or a cocktail on the beach; it’s not just about getting from point A to B; it’s so much more, according to Eric De Neef, executive vice president and global chief commercial officer at the Radisson Hotel GroupTM. It’s this desire to make every moment matter that’s the driving force behind the hotel chain’s vision and its newly-revamped Radisson RewardsTM program (formerly Club CarlsonSM). De Neef recently discussed how their vision for a new kind of hospitality experience can serve as perfect advice for anyone with a travel plan.

1. Go back to basics

A great trip starts with the fundamentals. “What we call ‛Brilliant Basics’ is the foundation of operational quality, brand standards and service delivery consistency,” says De Neef. “Choosing a hotel that offers a personalized service, a human touch, a safe and nurturing environment, a Yes, I Can!’ spirit, and, a rewards program is smart, but you also want to ensure that the program isn’t just about flashy-but-pointless frills. It genuinely needs to recognize and reward the trust a guest places in the brand. The newly-revamped Radisson RewardsTM program, for example, not only makes it easier to attain higher tiers of benefits more quickly, it concentrates on the simple things that make travel more relaxing. This includes beautiful in-room amenities, early check-ins and check-outs, a rich and meaningful online experience and, above all, a personal commitment to make the trip a memorable one.”

2. Embrace local flavor

Travel is also about the destination and getting into the local culture. That means focusing on the experiences you can have there that you can’t have anywhere else. Of course, you need a great hotel stay to start and close your day, while facilitating some of the fundamental needs of your travel experience. De Neef suggests choosing a hotel that offers local cuisine in its restaurant and other authentic touches drawn from the people, places and history around you.

3. Make a home away from home

Choose a hotel that isn’t just a place to sleep, but rather about offering something exceptional, something personal. “Radisson Rewards helps us stay in touch with our guests, recognize them when they return, so we can cater to their individual needs, the way they like it,” said De Neef. “We can help create a familiar space — a home away from home — so the guests are always at their ease, even during stressful moments.”

4. Create memorable moments

While taking home souvenirs remains a time-honored way of remembering your travels, experts increasingly advise that memories are more satisfying and powerful. The key to memorable moments is both in your own planning and your choice of hotel. “The entire 95,000-strong team of hoteliers in the Radisson Hotel Group, across 1,100 hotels in more than 110 countries around the world, are committed and professionally trained to help create memorable experiences for our guests, and adding value to their travel,” explains De Neef. 

Every trip is a chance to enrich your life. Choosing the right hotel with the right brand affiliation and service standards, a great location and a strong loyalty program can ease an enormous amount of pressure and stress that can come from travel.

So, next time you’re heading off to parts known or unknown, remember that the key to a great hotel experience is choosing one that combines the local with the memorable and personal.