Karelle Lamouche, Accor Group Chief Commercial Officer – Premium, Midscale and Economy

Rising inflation, soaring interest rates and economic uncertainty are causes for concern for consumers across the globe. But despite feeling the pinch, the desire to travel still remains strong, according to Accor’s global commercial chief.

“While we have higher cost of living, the rising inflation rate and GDP – leisure travel is still extremely strong,” Accor Group Chief Commercial Officer – Premium, Midscale and Economy, Karelle Lamouche, told HM.

“There are no signs of reduction in demand.

“Even when you look ahead to the booking pattern coming into summer in the southern hemisphere, demand is still very strong.”

In her more than 20 years with Accor, including as Chief Commercial Officer for Accor Northern Europe throughout the pandemic, Lamouche has observed a plethora of consumer travel trends.

And despite the varying challenges in different markets, a similar pattern emerges across the board.

“[Australia’s] level of occupancy is similar to what you see in Europe, is similar to what you see in the Middle East,” she said.

“The rate of growth is very similar and the way the markets behave from a leisure to a business perspective is also very similar.”

Amid higher airfares and increased cost pressures, Lamouche says people are travelling smarter and being savvy about maximising their time away.

“What we’re seeing is less trips but longer,” she said.

“The frequency is not as it was in 2019, however, [trips] tend to be extended because the cost of traveling is so high, people need to make the most of it.”

Key partnerships drive results

With 42 brands in its stable, Accor caters to a broad range of traveller needs, as Lamouche points out. And since launching its loyalty and booking platform ALL – Accor Live Limitless in 2019, the group is continuing to innovate to secure and retain new guests.

“It’s what we call augmented hospitality – it brings value to guests,” Lamouche said of the ALL platform.

Accor’s commercial partnerships are an important factor in the success of brands and in the loyalty platform more broadly.

“We segment our partners based on the different expectation that we have. Is it about brand equity, is it about commercial equity, or is it about the value proposition that we’re bringing to the consumers?” Lamouche explained.

For brands, securing partners with similar values and goals is helping to build brand equity and awareness.

Midscale brand Novotel, for example, recently announced a partnership with leading sleep and mediation app, Calm, to offer guests free content aimed at aiding sleep and reducing stress.

“With Novotel we’ve been working with Calm and with Disney to be able to leverage the family angle for instance,” Lamouche said.

Meanwhile, at a Group level, Accor’s partnership with Australian airline Qantas continue to grow.

“The team is managing all the Qantas lounges, which is a great opportunity from an operating model but also for visibility from the brand perspective,” she said.

“From a loyalty perspective, it’s about being able to give Qantas and Accor travellers the benefit of this augmented partnership.

“It’s going to be a value add for the consumer. It is as beneficial for Qantas as it is for us.”