Accor Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin

In the 22nd edition of the HM Industry Leaders Forum, HM invited leading hoteliers, tourism professionals and suppliers across Asia Pacific and the world to their insights into the hotel landscape and their outlook for the year ahead.

Here, Accor Chief Executive Officer, Sébastien Bazin, reveals how digitalisation and data are the new gold for enhancing bespoke guest experience.

2023 was all about doing what we do best: anticipating opportunities, constantly innovating and putting people at the heart of what we do with a strong focus on executing our plans. Our highly skilled talents, unique geographic footprint, unrivalled brand portfolio, industry-leading digital expertise and daring spirit gives us the platform for our next chapter of growth. We evolved to an optimised organisational structure – Premium, Midscale and Economy on the one hand, and Luxury and Lifestyle on the other – which allow us to further unlock our potential.

We are curating one of the most extraordinary global luxury portfolios and with Orient Express Silenseas we marked the beginning of a new adventure. This exceptional sailing yacht, with roots in Orient Express’ history, will revolutionise the maritime world with new technology to meet today’s sustainability challenges. Another exceptional highlight has been the opening of Raffles London at The OWO, one of the most important moments in the history of the Raffles brand, synonymous with legendary service, glamour and art.

I’m proud to say we continued putting sustainability at the core of everything we do. Doing just enough is not enough. We must continue to contribute more than we take. In China, we launched an educational whitepaper on sustainable travel setting out actions for key domestic stakeholders – from the everyday to the systemic – to support the hospitality of tomorrow.

Systemic change will only be achieved through collaborative action. Working with our peers will enable us to bring to life a responsible hospitality model and that’s why we co-founded the Hospitality Alliance for Responsible Procurement, a groundbreaking industry collaboration which will transform procurement and support our shared sustainability vision. Independent certification is a must-have for hotels to help guests make sustainable travel decisions, so we signed global partnerships with two certification programs, Green Key and Green Globe in 2023.

We have ambitiously expanded into key markets such as China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, boosting our international growth. We’ve capitalised on the booming tourism industries in these countries by offering authentic experiences through a diverse portfolio of brands. In China, we signed approximately 125 hotel partnership projects, capturing the nation’s resilient domestic travel sector. Globally, our new Handwritten Collection encapsulates our commitment to unique and authentic guest experiences. Our progress in the fast-growing branded residences segment has also continued, with a focus on facilitating over 150 branded residences by 2027 through our innovative Accor One Living platform.

We are navigators of the now and what is to come. There are a number of trends driving the travel of today and tomorrow. We have embraced the “work-from-anywhere” shift and deliver unique and immersive experiences through lifestyle, luxury and long-stay offerings, all-inclusive resorts, and extended stay accommodations. Digitalisation and data are the new gold for enhancing the bespoke guest experience, freeing up time for the hotel teams to focus on providing irreplaceable human interaction. Travellers have growing expectations around sustainability, and our commitment is evident through initiatives such as eliminating single-use plastics, promoting gender diversity, measuring carbon emissions and providing ESG training to talents.

Our holistic approach positions us as a leader in the ever-evolving hospitality landscape. In 2024, we have planned our most diverse and impressive line-ups of new hotel openings to date, with a collection of exciting projects across our 45+ unique brands.