Accor has celebrated its 30th anniversary in Asia-Pacific in record breaking fashion by opening 110 and signing a further 100 this year alone.

As part of the celebrations, Denis Hennequin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accor and Michael Issenberg, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Accor Asia-Pacific, announced the Group’s 100th new hotel contract – Novotel Goa Shrem Resort – signed in the region this year, boosting the Group’s ambition to operate 700 Asia-Pacific hotels by 2015.

The announcement of the 150-room Novotel marks Accor’s first property in this key market in India.

Accor’s story in the region began in 1982, when the Group launched the Novotel Orchid Singapore. In the 1980s, Accor laid its foundations, opening its first hotels in Thailand, Greater China and South Korea. As the 1990s began, the Group’s Asia-Pacific network comprised just 13 hotels, but by the end of the decade the portfolio had grown to 180 hotels across the whole region and in all market sectors. In the following 12 years, the Group’s regional network has more than tripled to 550 hotels in 16 countries.

Looking forward, the Group has ambitious plans with the aim of expanding from 18 hotels to 90 hotels in India, from 126 hotels to over 200 hotels in Greater China, and to nearly double its network of 52 hotels in Indonesia. By 2015, Accor expects to operate 700 hotels in the region. And the Group continues to set its sights on new markets in Asia-Pacific: earlier this month, Accor announced that it will enter its 17th market in the region – Bangladesh – with two Novotel hotels in Dhaka and Chittagong.

To commemorate this historic milestone for the Group, Mr. addressed his colleagues in Singapore today, saying,

“Dynamic, diverse, growing – these three words aptly describe Accor’s first three decades in Asia-Pacific,” Hennequin told colleagues in Singapore on Wednesday (Nov 21).

“As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I am proud to reflect not only on our successes and on lessons learned, but also to look forward to the tremendous opportunities that await us.

“What started out as one hotel in Singapore in 1982 has grown into the region’s market leader and one of the most important drivers of growth for Accor globally.”

The celebration comes as Accor announces another record year in Asia-Pacific, adding 110 new hotels, representing over 19,000 rooms to the network, a sharp increase from the 67 hotels and over 12,000 rooms added in 2011.

“As we look back on our first three decades in the region, we also celebrate a bumper year for Accor in Asia-Pacific, shattering the records we set last year,” Issenberg said.

“In May, we announced our 500th hotel in the region – Pullman Gurgaon Central Park. In June, we added 43 hotels in Australia and New Zealand, with our successful acquisition of MIRVAC. In September, we passed the 100,000-room threshold with the opening of the flagship ibis Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan.

“And we’re thrilled to announce the signing of Novotel Goa Shrem Resort – which will be our first hotel in this important Indian destination. This contract represents the 100th new hotel signed in the region in 2012 and brings our confirmed development pipeline to nearly 240 properties.

“I’m proud of what we have achieved over the last three decades – and I am positive in my outlook for the future of the Group in this dynamic region.”

Accor has expanded across all segments – from luxury to budget – in the region, with a number of exciting “firsts” in 2012.

Sofitel, the Group’s luxury hotel brand, for instance, opened its first property in India with Sofitel Mumbai BKC, and introduced the Sofitel So brand in the region, with the opening of Sofitel So Bangkok.

The upscale Pullman brand opened its 14th hotel in China – with Pullman Anshan Time Square – positioning the country as the brand’s largest market – and entered new markets India and New Zealand for the first time. In February, Accor launched Mei Jue – the upscale Grand Mercure brand tailor-made for Chinese travellers – with an ambitious goal of opening 60 properties by 2015. The brand has gained rapid acceptance from both development partners and customers – nearly 20% of Accor’s hotels under development in China today are tailor-made Grand Mercure hotels.

Following a major re-launch in 2011, the Ibis brand family of economy hotels (Ibis, Ibis Styles, Ibis budget) expanded into new markets this year, entering Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan for the first time with Ibis Saigon South, Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park and Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku, respectively.

“One of the things that sets Accor apart from our competitors is our ability to offer a comprehensive portfolio of hotels, from luxury to budget, to cater to the needs of a vast range of travellers,” Issenberg said.

“We have also made significant enhancements to each of the brands, setting the pace in their respective market sectors.

“For instance, Accor’s Ibis brand has redefined economy hotel accommodation with the innovative design of its rooms and the introduction of a new bedding concept that effectively offers 5-star bedding standards in a 3-star product.”

As Accor reinforces its global “asset-light” strategy – focusing on management contracts and franchise agreements over hotel ownership – the Group is looking towards Asia-Pacific, which has led the way with asset-light operating models. Over 80% of Accor’s network in the region represents either franchised or managed hotels.

As part of this asset-light strategy, Accor in July partnered with Singapore-based Ascendas in the creation of A-HTRUST, one of the largest publicly listed hotel investment trusts in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our ‘asset-light’ strategy has been made possible through the development of strong partnerships forged over the years with hotel owners and franchisees,” Issenberg said. “These partnerships are as varied as the countries in which we operate and range from diverse family businesses to institutional investors.”

While Accor’s expansion in the region has been dynamic, it has not been “growth at any cost.” Over three decades, the Group has undertaken many initiatives to make its hotels more sustainable – both in terms of environment and the community. For example, in 2001, Accor employees in Indonesia launched A Tree for a Child, an innovative project combining environmental protection and poverty alleviation. In 2003, Accor became the first international hotel operator to sign the ECPAT Code of Conduct to combat child sex tourism. And in 2008, Novotel Bali Benoa became the first hotel in the region to achieve a third party environmental management certification.

This year, Accor launched PLANET 21, the Group’s new sustainable development program, which covers 21 commitments to reinventing hotels, sustainably. Accor employees around the region celebrated the program’s kickoff by planting trees.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management