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Exclusive: Issenberg’s positive outlook

In an exclusive column for HM magazine’s February ‘Leaders Forum’ special edition, Accor’s Chairman and COO of Asia-Pacific, Michael Issenberg, has revealed his positive outlook for 2014.

With over 560 hotels and 107,000 rooms by the end of 2013, Accor continues to be a leader in Asia Pacific. 2013 was a big year for us, having added 47 hotels to the network in the region and we expect this growth to continue, with more than 200 hotels opening in Asia Pacific in the coming three years.

We are very lucky to be part of this region, which last year enjoyed around 8% growth in international tourist numbers, with more than 220 million international tourists, according to IPK International.

We are optimistic that demand for travel will continue to grow as Asian economies keep developing. With a growing number of young, well-educated middle class consumers, rising levels of disposable income in countries like China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Korea, and an increase in low cost carriers across the region, Asian countries should remain a strong driver for travel in 2014.

The Pullman brand continues to be a pacesetter for Accor in the region and is already the largest five-star hotel network in Australia. There are 89 Pullman hotels globally in 24 countries, and 50 of those hotels are in Asia Pacific, including 15 in China alone. The brand represents around 20% of our entire Asia Pacific pipeline. This year we will roll out a range of new initiatives across the brand including Pullman Art Nights, “Tapastry” menus, the Pullman business playground and more and we will launch new hotels throughout the region.

The Novotel brand reached a significant milestones in 2013, reaching its 100th hotel in Asia Pacific, with the opening of Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach Resort. Novotel now offers nearly 25,000 rooms in Asia Pacific and has a strong pipeline for the next three years.

This month we will reach another major milestone – our 1000th ibis hotel, with the opening of ibis Surabaya in Indonesia. In the last two years, the ibis family of hotels has undergone major and rapid upgrades including new ibis ‘sweet’ bedding, new more colourful public spaces and a stronger customer service focus.

Of course Accor is not the only hotel group with a strong pipeline, so one of the biggest challenges facing the industry in coming years will be the battle for staff. Accor will need to employ another 30,000 staff by 2016 as we continue to expand our network.

For more of Michael Issenberg’s exclusive outlook, and over 50 other projections from industry leaders, see the February 2014 edition of HM magazine.

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