Exclusive Interview: Sébastien Bazin – Chairman and CEO – Accor
2018 was another record year for the Accor Group with fast expansion and excellent performances in all regions and across all segments. The year also saw a major shift for the group as it moved to an asset light model with the sale of 65% of AccorInvest. We asked Sébastien Bazin – Chairman and CEO – Accor what else is new as the group arrives at ITB Berlin 2019.
We recently announced our new customer promise embodied by the “ALL-Accor Live Limitless” launch that will combine our distribution platform and a new experiential loyalty programme. ALL is a major initiative bringing to life our Augmented Hospitality ecosystem and making it accessible to everyone under one umbrella and through one platform. Members of the loyalty programme will get access to a global range of experiences to “Live, Work, Play”, well beyond the hotel stay. Accor has also announced a signing of several global partnerships; notably with AEG, IMG and the Paris Saint- Germain football club, as ALL will notably become the main jersey sponsor as of the next season.
ALL IS A MAJOR INITIATIVE BRINGING TO LIFE OUR AUGMENTED HOSPITALITY ECOSYSTEM
14 hotel brands joined the Accor universe in 2018. Which, to you, have been the most important, and what can we expect in 2019?
The largest acquisition was Mantra, an Australian hotel group which consolidated our existing leadership in the Pacific region. The acquisition of Mövenpick was another key highlight of last year as it allows us to consolidate our leadership in the European market and further accelerate our growth in emerging markets, in particular in the Middle East, Africa and Asia- Paci c. Last key moment of 2018 was undoubtedly the acquisition of a 50% stake in sbe, a leading lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages and operates award-winning global properties and iconic brands. This partnership illustrates our strategy to expand our offering in the luxury lifestyle hospitality segment. It strengthens our presence in key gateway cities in the US, but also reinforces our expertise in areas such as bars, restaurants and night clubs which are at the core of the sbe’s DNA. In 2019, we will bring this Augmented Hospitality approach to life for customers. It means offering them not only a stay but a full experience and putting a lot of efforts into areas such as distribution, loyalty and brands. These initiatives have all a very simple objective: drive more business for our partners, offer more experiences to our guests and continue to shape the hospitality of tomorrow.
Please tell us more about the roll-out of your new luxury brand “Orient Express”.
The Orient Express brand is a timeless symbol of the art of luxury travel, steeped in culture, splendour and refinement. The legendary train, which for almost a century connected Europe’s greatest cities, from Paris to Istanbul, is imprinted in both History and imagination. Since 1977, SNCF Group has been actively involved in developing the brand’s prestigious image, notably through the restoration of vintage carriages dating from the 1920s. Accor and SNCF Group signed a strategic partnership in 2017 to develop Orient Express hotels after Accor acquired a 50% stake in the share capital of the brand. Accor intends to develop a new collection of prestigious hotels under the Orient Express banner. This collection, which aims to be the very epitome of the art of travel, will offer a unique experience steeped in history that combines the luxury, exoticism and sophistication of East and West in iconic locations. The first Orient Express hotel will open this year in the landmark King Power Mahanakhon Building in Bangkok. We are working on several other iconic projects in key international gateways.
What other major news do you have for us at ITB Berlin?
Another exciting addition to our portfolio, with the launch of Tribe, a brand creating an affordable alternative to luxury accommodation; contemporary and design driven without the clichéd extras. There is already one hotel open in Perth, 10 hotels in the pipeline and over 50 hotels under negotiation.
Photo: Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, Accor