Accor has unveiled a five-year, €225 million (AUD$320 million) technology strategy aimed at becoming the global digital hospitality leader.
Accor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sébastien Bazin, announced the strategy in Paris, France overnight (Oct 30), aimed at consolidating its leadership throughout the hospitality value chain.
The company says the ‘leading digital hospitality’ plan is Accor’s global response to digital challenges, in a market defined by the accelerated pace of technological change and the fast evolution of customer usage.
The plan, according to Accor, was designed with three targets in mind – customers, employees and partners. Its objectives are to rethink and incorporate digital technology throughout the customer journey, improve the services on offer for investor partners and consolidate the Group’s distribution market share. Its two pillars are IT infrastructure and data management. The plan will be rolled out through eight programs, which initial deliverables to be effective as early as 2015.
“Accor is transforming on a strategic, digital and managerial level,” Bazin said. “The plan addresses the full range of digital challenges and aims to make Accor the leader of a fast-changing industry.
“Accor is the leading hotel operator worldwide, backed by strong resources and unparalleled expertise. Combining these assets with our new digital ambition will allow us to expand our operational excellence throughout the entire industry value chain, to better anticipate customers’ expectations, and to bolster our leadership over the long term,” he said.
Accor’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of marketing, digital solutions, distribution, and information systems, Vivek Badrinath, said, “We have decided to act on all of the levers that make up the Accor experience. All our stakeholders – customers, employees and partners – will benefit from this wide-reaching digital transformation, which is built around migration to mobile devices, a more personalized service and a seamless customer journey.”
The plan includes four customer-focused programs that aim to improve the knowledge of customers, the welcome they are given and the services provided. They will enable Accor to increase its customer data base and develop further loyalty.
-‘Mobile First’ takes into account customers’ migration to mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, by rolling out a single mobile application incorporating all of Accor’s services before, during and after hotel stays;
-‘Customer Centric’ will develop and make optimum use of databases to ensure personalized follow- up and services, and will centralize feedback on a single platform known as the ‘Voice of the Guests’;
-‘Seamless Journey’ will ensure convenience for customers at every stage of their experience, with electronic payment solutions, one-click booking, online check-in and the Le Club Accorhotels virtual card;
-‘Mice and BtoB’ will develop innovative digital solutions for businesses, such as online booking of seminar facilities, and will increasingly incorporate BtoB services in the global booking website, accorhotels.com.
The plan also includes programs for the Group’s employees and partners:
-‘Employee Friendly’ aims to simplify welcome tasks using tablets and smartphones, develop online training solutions, and encourage experience sharing via ‘AccorLive’, the in-house social network; and
-‘Owner and Franchise Centric’ aims to make Accor the most efficient and transparent partner, notably by offering comprehensive dynamic pricing and revenue management solutions, a dedicated portal to access personalized information and services and an optimized billing process, starting in 2015.
The Group’s digital transformation also involves making IT tools and systems even more robust and agile. To achieve this objective, the following programs will be implemented in 2015:
-‘Infrastructure Transformation’ will focus on optimising systems to speed up the roll-out of new services and keep pace with rising transaction volumes; and
-‘Business Intelligence and Analytics’ will ensure that operational decisions are increasingly based on analyses of the large volumes of data collected, particularly in hotels.
The digital plan relies on existing robust tools, some of which have been significantly improved since the beginning of 2014, and which keep evolving:
-TARS, The Accor Reservation System, is a powerful distribution tool, which today centralizes 59% of the Group’s bookings and over five million inquiries per day;
-accorhotels.com is the Group’s multi-brand booking portal, which manages an average of 45,000 reservations per day. It is already available in 32 local versions and 16 languages (18 planned by 2015) and now offers a new trip planning service (My Trip Planner) that enables customers to prepare their stays in 70 destinations around the world; and
-Le Club Accorhotels is the Group’s multi-brand loyalty program, which added over 3 million new members in 2014 and increased its generosity. It is the only hotel loyalty program in the world that allows customers to redeem points with no time or availability restrictions.
Based on these tools, several important initiatives have already been launched over the last months at each stage of the customer journey, including:
-Increased personalization of e-mail campaigns through SMART, an exclusive self-learning recommendation tool that will generate over 14,000 e-mail campaigns in 16 languages in 2014;
-The worldwide roll-out of “Welcome by Le Club Accorhotels”, a digital solution that revisits hospitality and aims to make customers’ stays easier through smartphone exchanges. It will be up and running in 1,000 Group hotels by the end of 2014; and
-A complete makeover of the photo and video images available online, with more than 2,500 new shoots currently in progress.
Accor will dedicate additional resources to innovation, through open innovation platforms and tactical acquisitions that strengthen its expertise and technology.
The Group also announced its acquisition of French start-up Wipolo, a cutting-edge travel software company that offers mobile and web itinerary management services.
The plan will be rolled out under the aegis of a dedicated governance structure, comprising a Digital Steering Committee and eight Digital Program Committees.
“This profound transformation gives Accor an outstanding platform to scale up,” Bazin said.
Accor will invest a significant €225 million between 2014 and 2018 to bring all of these initiatives to fruition. Capital expenditure will account for 55% of the total and operating expenditure for the remaining 45%.
In all, 60% of the amount invested will be aimed at consolidating the Group’s current performance by improving middle and back-office solutions. The remaining 40% will be used to expand market share and optimise distribution unit costs.