It has been nine months since AccorHotels sold 55% of its owned hotel platform for €4.4 billion (USD 5 billion) through its HotelInvest division.
In May, the French hotel company said it increased that sales%age to 57.8%, and then in July it sold another 7%, leaving it with just a little over one-third of the portfolio. That leaves an interesting question as to what AccorHotels has become and where it intends to go.
AccorHotels plans to buy the rest of Poland’s Orbis for 1.9 billion zlotys (USD 501 million) to strengthen its position in Central Europe. Accor will make a cash tender offer priced at 87 zlotys per share to buy the 47.31% outstanding stake in Orbis that it does not already own, it said on Monday.
For Thomas Dubaere, COO, Northern Europe, AccorHotels, the company’s business model has shifted significantly as the separation of AccorInvest has concentrated its focus on providing hotel and travel services, rather than doubling up as an investor and an owner.
Dubaere said AccorHotels’ recent experience and in-house expertise comes from being both an owner and a leading manager, which will allow its new services to be offered more widely to owners of AccorHotels brand flags, even to those outside the company.
AccorHotels will continue to innovate, Dubaere said.
Sometimes a helping hand
Due to the increased importance of these other disciplines, “top-line revenue is so complex it can no longer be managed by a standalone owner,” Dubaere said.
“We’ve been investing in and selling these additional services to existing partners for a year and a half now. For example, we’ve recruited a retail manager experienced purely in the retail business, and we’ve sold some of these concepts to our partners,” Dubaere said, who added AccorHotels has created 14 retail concepts.
The firm’s development of community services, known as Accor Local, will come to the U.K., but not yet, Dubaere said, with the program currently being tested in France.
Dubaere said this change at AccorHotels cannot happen unless there is a complete transformation in how employees interact with guests and locals.
Dubaere said technology’s role is to support and empower staff.
“AccorHotels has split; we are now asset-light,” he said. “In the U.K., we have 240 hotels, 130 of which we manage, the other 110 we franchise. And going forwards, we will also become a major service provider. Outside of Europe, Accor was mostly asset-light, but in the U.K., we were asset-heavy forever.”
Dubaere said AccorHotels is still looking at U.K. growth and scale in the hotel brand space.
“Our ambition is not Whitbread or Travelodge; it is to lead in expertise,” Dubaere said of AccorHotels’ plans in the U.K. “Take the War Office in (Whitehall), London, where we’re bringing a Raffles. No other international brand got it, we did. We’re taking our place in luxury and running it, as did for management in the lifestyle segment.
“We did not just buy into the management of Fairmont just for luxury but for more than 100 years of pure luxury management. You do not welcome a Fairmont guest the same way as one to an Ibis.”
“We will take technology further, but first the basics - customer care, loyalty… Creating an entrepreneurial culture is key to making this strategy successful,” Dubaere said.
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