Sébastien Bazin Said Pandemic’s Low Point Was Deciding the Fate of 290,000 Employees
Accor’s Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin is on a mission to bring more passion to the hotel industry, though a combination of his firm’s loyalty program All; its many brands; and the knowledge and joie de vivre of staff members.
Speaking with Hotel News Now during the International Hotel Investment Forum, Bazin said one initiative in Eastern Europe has proven successful and might be scaled up.
“We gave staff members a little money to redesign a room, and they were free also to use their own belongings. They put their names above the doors, and they gained great self-esteem and pride in that, and the guests loved it, too,” he said, adding that staff are a huge untapped resource to allow guests to learn about a destination.
“Some might say this is gimmicky, but it was a huge success,” he added.
The importance of individuality extends to hotel deals too, Bazin said. While some other hotel companies have concentrated on conversions during the pandemic, Bazin said he has concerns about the industry losing individuality.
“Yes, conversions are fueling the engine. Independent owners got a great deal of help, which has masked … the economic reality, but I have told my teams not to take advantage,” he said.
“Allow them to remain independent. We need independent businesses as without them it is harder for a place to retain its differences and characteristics. I have told my teams not to be vultures,” he added.
He said some markets in Europe, like Italy, could remain very fragmented in terms of hotel brand affiliation as they have been for hundreds of years, and they could be better off for it.
That doesn’t mean Accor hasn’t seen solid rooms growth, though. Bazin noted 50% of all signings in Northern Europe during the pandemic have been with Accor, and the company launched a new conversion brand during IHIF called Emblems, the company’s 42nd brand.
Luxury and Boutique Focus
Luxury and boutique hotels are another focal point for Bazin. These hotels are now wrapped up within its division Ennismore, formed in November 2020, following buys of Ennismore, which owned The Hoxton and Gleneagles brands, SBE and other hotel brands and firms.
He believes that luxury division will soon account for 30% of the company’s overall revenue.
“We’ll have 99 hotels [within Ennismore] by the end of the year, and 120 more signed in the next 18 months. There are another 80 in negotiation between 18 and 36 months, and there are 150 standalone bars and restaurants,” he said.
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