Carlson Companies

Carlson Companies

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Carlson is a privately held international corporation in the hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

, restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

, and travel
Travel is the movement of people or objects between relatively distant geographical locations. 'Travel' can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.-Etymology:...

 industries. Headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota
Minnetonka, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 51,301 people, 21,393 households, and 14,097 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,893.0 persons per square mile . There were 22,228 housing units at an average density of 818.9 per square mile...

, near Minneapolis, Carlson brands and services, including franchised operations, employ more than 170,000 people in more than 150 countries and territories. The company's 2008 sales, including those from franchised operations, totaled $38 billion. It is one of the largest family-held corporations in the United States.


Carlson was founded in 1938 as the Gold Bond Stamp Company by Curt Carlson
Curt Carlson
Curtis "Curt" Carlson was a Swedish-American businessman and founder of Carlson.-Background:Curtis Leroy Carlson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Charles and Leatha Carlson, both Swedish-American immigrants...

, who used a $55 loan to start his venture. Founded during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, Mr. Carlson used "Gold Bond Stamps", a consumer loyalty program
Loyalty program
Loyalty programs are structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior — behavior which is potentially beneficial to the firm....

 based on trading stamp
Trading stamp
Trading stamps are small paper coupons given to customers by merchants in loyalty marketing programs that predate the modern loyalty card. These stamps had no value individually, but when a customer accumulated a number of them, they could be exchanged with the trading stamp company for premiums,...

s, to provided consumer incentive for grocery stores.

Revenue from this business was brisk until the late 1960s, when trading stamps began to lose popularity. The company was renamed "Carlson Companies" in 1973 as it diversified into hospitality and travel industries.

In 1962, Carlson purchased its first Radisson Hotel in Minneapolis. It then went on to purchase T.G.I. Friday's
T.G.I. Friday's
T.G.I. Friday's is an American restaurant chain focusing on casual dining. The company is a unit of the Carlson Companies. Its name is taken from the expression TGIF...

 in 1975 and Country Kitchen International in 1977. In 1987 Carlson founded Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM. In 2000, Carlson acquired the Park Plaza® and Park Inn® brands.

In 1994 Carlson Travel Group and Paris-based Wagonlit Travel signed an alliance to form Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) — one of the world's largest business travel management companies.

In a return to its roots, the Carlson Companies started an electronic consumer incentive program named in 1997. The program later was modified and became goldpoints plusSM, the incentive program of Carlson Hotels. Effective March 31, 2011 Club CarlsonSM will replace the goldpoints plus hotel loyalty program.

In 1998, Curtis L. Carlson named his daughter Marilyn Carlson Nelson as his successor; a year later he died. Hubert Joly
Hubert Joly
Hubert Joly, born and raised in France, is president, CEO and a director of Carlson, a global hospitality and travel company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.-Early career:...

 became Carlson's president and chief executive officer in 2008, and Nelson continues to serve as chairman of the board.


Carlson's subsidiaries include:
Carlson Hotels
  • Radisson Hotels
    Radisson Hotels
    Radisson Hotels is one of the leading, full-service global hotel companies with more than 420 locations in 73 countries. The first Radisson Hotel was built in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1909, and was named after the 17th-century French explorer Pierre-Esprit Radisson...

  • Country Inns
  • Park Inn by Radisson
  • Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts
    Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts
    Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts is a worldwide brand of 39 hotels operating in major markets of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Main markets include London , Amsterdam and Berlin . The hotels are either owned, managed, or franchised to independent operators by Park Plaza® Hotels & Resorts...

Carlson Restaurants
  • T.G.I. Friday's
    T.G.I. Friday's
    T.G.I. Friday's is an American restaurant chain focusing on casual dining. The company is a unit of the Carlson Companies. Its name is taken from the expression TGIF...

  • Carlson Wagonlit Travel
    Carlson Wagonlit Travel
    Carlson Wagonlit Travel is a large travel agency, handling both business and leisure clients.It operates in 157 countries and territories, with 22,000 employees. According to Business Travel News, in 2007, CWT surpassed American Express Business Travel and became the world's largest...


In 2010, for the eighth time in recent history, Carlson was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers by Working Mother
Working Mother
Working Mother Media is a subsidiary of Bonnier Corporation It is the largest multimedia company in US which focused on diversity and the advancement of women...

magazine. For four consecutive years, 2006–2009, Carlson was named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” In 2002, Carlson was on Fortune
Fortune (magazine)
Fortune is a global business magazine published by Time Inc. Founded by Henry Luce in 1930, the publishing business, consisting of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated, grew to become Time Warner. In turn, AOL grew as it acquired Time Warner in 2000 when Time Warner was the world's largest...

magazine's list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.”

External links