Accor Pacific CEO, Sarah Derry

Five years after joining Accor’s Pacific business, Senior Vice President – Talent and Culture, Sarah Derry, took on the top job as CEO in February. Having owned and operated her own successful business for over 10 years, Derry brings a wealth of experience as well as a unique understanding of Accor’s values and culture.

Here, she shares an insight into the key travel trends that are on her radar and her plans for growing the business in 2022.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Accor Pacific CEO. What projects are you most excited about tackling in this new role?

We are entering a new chapter for tourism and have a strong future ahead of us. Above all, our teams and I are looking forward to welcoming back guests to our regions and cities. I am also excited about maximising the potential of our key partnerships, such as Accor Stadium, which will realise greater benefits for our loyal guests and support our partners.

How has owning and operating your own hospitality business impacted you as a leader?

Managing and growing my own business has been a formative part of my experience, I was fortunate to work with some great organisations and people. Being a business owner also helped me to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and I came to realise that an essential part of any business’s success is trust, loyalty, referrals and relationships.

You are already contributing to organisations that make a difference to the broader community, in terms of education, wellbeing and social impact. How do you plan to shape CSR at Accor?

We will continue to support our local communities, our teams, our guests and our partners to forge a long term and sustainable future. We take our responsibilities to the environment very seriously and we each have a role to play in contributing to the community. From looking at innovation around renewable energy, to food waste and reviewing our supply chain, we are making positive changes. We all need to work together as an industry. We do not want to be competitive regarding sustainability and the future of the environment, and Accor recently signed the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance for this reason. We need to learn together and from each other, inspire each other and challenge each other to make a difference.

How will Accor attract and retain new talent now that Australia’s international borders are open?

Now that the borders are open, we will see skilled workers and students from overseas bringing their talents into Accor and this will complement our existing teams. Our business is built on an incredible culture which we call “Heartist” — a culture with real purpose, one which cares for guests, teams and partners and provides meaningful and unforgettable experiences.  We have created a number of innovative programs to attract new talent into our business, from same day hire to flexible working. I believe we must meet people where they are at and support them on their career journey. 

What are the top priorities/projects for Accor Pacific this year?

We will continue to execute a strong business strategy which will deliver long-term success for our partners and teams for decades to come.

This is an exciting industry in one of the best regions in the world and within the next few years we will have launched a variety of new premium and luxury brands with the debut of Mondrian, 25hours and So/ in Australia.

What key travel trends do you plan to tap into this year at Accor?

It is great to see that international visitors are returning to our region and our cities are opening up with arts, theatre and sporting experiences once again.  People love to travel, and bookings are picking up pace. Accor has almost 400 hotels, apartments and resorts across the Pacific and will benefit from global events such as the Grand Prix which will attract people back to Melbourne. Enjoying our own backyard in the Pacific has been a key trend and it will continue; leisure destinations such as Queensland and Fiji are very popular with Australian holiday makers.