Accor's Jeff Doane discusses:
- The hotel company's reorganization
- The effect of increased bleisure travel
- Corporate service expectations
Accor has kicked off the new year by reorganizing its leadership and restructuring
its brands into two divisions and launching a
new global midscale collection. The
restructuring alone promises to reorganize the company’s more than 40 brands,
allowing leadership to invest in experiences and service.
Accor SVP of sales and marketing for North and Central America, last
week spoke with BTN’s Angelique Platas during the American Lodging
Investment Summit in Los Angeles about these changes and what it means for the
company. Edited excerpts follow.
BTN: Are the
brands in line with the restructuring process? What changes to the sales team
will the restructuring bring?
Doane: This new
structure really gives us the opportunity to focus back on the luxury brands.
Each luxury brand is going to have its own dedicated team. And then you have
the capacity to leverage what you need out of that, that kind of large
corporate entity. I think it's great for the company.
started, so there's a lot of musical chairs to take place over the next little
while. We'll do it pretty quickly. We still have the same team. We still have
essentially the same organization. We had been approaching it in a way that's
similar to where we're kind of netting out from a structural perspective. It
just means that my focus changes a little bit.
are you investing this year, and where are you looking to drive performance?
focus for the last few years has been overwhelmingly on trying to drive leisure
travel, because that was where the opportunity was. In the last year or so,
we've started to see business travel and group come back pretty [well] and
pretty quickly. The interesting thing is, there's been such a blurring of the
lines in the last year with leisure and [business travel]. You kind of have to
kind of mix the two a little bit.
really focused on trying to drive the luxury experience harder. We felt when we
were coming out of [the pandemic], maybe the industry had lost a little bit of
that magic or that luster, the glamour, the romance of travel. What's
fascinating about that is, because of this bleisure phenomenon, it's kind of
applying to every segment. So we've been really focused on, at the hotel level,
trying to drive that service level… and experience.
BTN: Accor recently launched the Handwritten Collection. What does that bring to the midscale sector, and how will it serve corporate travelers?
Doane: We are trying to find a way for independent hotels to continue to have their own kind of DNA and their own sense of place while being able to take advantage of our loyalty program and our distribution. You want to have a certain amount of structure to it, but you don't want the hotel to lose its own character. And it's those sorts of hotels where—maybe it's an individual owner-operator or somebody like that—they want to partner, but they don't want to give up management. They don't want to give up everything that they've done to make their hotel special. Those are the kinds of hotels that would be a part of the Handwritten Collection. It's the midscale version of MGallery.
BTN: What are corporate clients asking you about the most, and how are you working to deliver on those needs?
Doane: One we already talked about is service and experience. It became a big concern in our industry when our customers were arriving at hotels and the hotel clearly just didn't have enough people to serve them. They want assurances that they're going to get the experience they signed up for. That was a little bit of the impetus for us with this race to the top idea that I mentioned earlier. We just felt as if, if we could race to the top quicker than every other luxury brand, that we'd be able to capture more business [because of] that. It was definitely self-serving, but our customers were right along with us … saying, ‘Yeah, we demand this, we'd expect this too.’
Anytime where you have uncertain economic times, there's a lot of discussion around rates. It's that combination [of rate that reflects the experience] that our customers are looking for. It's interesting, though, at the luxury end, how that experience and service and making sure you have enough people and all that—that's really the first topic of discussion before you get into, you know, how much are you going to pay? Maybe at a different end of the market or at different segments, it's just about price.