Accor executives pictured at Hyde Hacienda in Sydney

Accor is a global leader in hotel management and currently operates more than 2,300 hotels under hotel management agreements (HMA). Under HMA, owners choose to work with Accor for its global stature and footprint, world class brands, powerful distribution and loyalty platforms, strong local operations expertise and support, sales and marketing initiatives and financial returns.

In this interview, Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer PM&E, Adrian Williams, shares how the Group is driving long-term success for owners.

Adrian, you’ve recently taken over as head of Accor in the Pacific; what is your primary focus right now?

I’m really focused on addressing the needs and requirements of our owners and continuing to deliver even greater operational excellence and business growth for them. My first priority has been to work through a business transformation plan that aligns with our global strategy to enhance support for our hotels and deliver for our partners with our teams across commercial, revenue management, finance, talent and culture, procurement and operations.

As the Pacific’s largest hotel operator, what are the greatest advantages that you offer owners in terms of resources and support?

We make decisions locally based on market conditions, with key operating functions supporting our hotels, backed by a large global support structure. This gives us the strength of global brands and the largest loyalty platform in the Pacific with the expertise of a local management platform. This allows us to make decisions quickly and put resources where they are needed most.

We know that owners are under pressure with margin compression, high cost of debt and inflation.  We are continually looking at ways to build productivity and returns for our owners. We’ve recently invested in even more operational support with a larger team of operational leaders based in key cities across the Pacific.

While every hotel company has a corporate office in the market, we are the only group to have operational teams and leaders based in Auckland, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Fiji – that’s the Accor difference. We are also the only hotel company to have a dedicated luxury team, franchise team, and food and beverage team.

We’re also training our teams to think like an owner, building capabilities for our general managers to think longer term and understand the full investment position, not just hotel operations, so we can better focus on increasing yields and building asset value.

Key leaders within Accor’s Pacific division L_R top: Marcus Hanna, Angela Howard, Nathan Cox, Anne Gill, Ben Creek, Mat Finch; Bottom: Adrian Williams, Michelle Bradshaw, Natasha Larkin, David Criss

You spoke of the global vision, what is the global approach for Accor now?

We’ve dived into a new phase of transformation and growth with the creation of two distinct divisions – Premium, Midscale & Economy, and Luxury & Lifestyle. This strategic move isn’t just about shaking things up, it’s about solidifying our leadership position in the industry and accelerating future growth by fine-tuning our approach to better meet the specific needs of each market segment. Our owners love it as it puts the right resources and approach in the right area to deal with these very different segments.

Many of Accor’s owners have multiple properties with you. What is key to the success in fostering these long-term partnerships with hotel owners?

We are very proud of the relationships we have with our owners built over a long time. Like all good relationships, we seek to listen and learn from each other. The great thing is we offer a strong local presence, support and expertise to owners for immediate access and action when they need it. This ethos is how we built our Pacific business and for me, with 26 years with Accor, I am totally committed to continuing this legacy.

Our global strategy and business transformation is fully aligned with this approach also. This is why we are investing in our teams and enhancing our systems.

We also have flexibility in how we work with owners. We have developed the largest hotel management platform in the Pacific with more than 300 above property team members to help support our hotels and drive performance. Separate to this, we have also developed the largest dedicated hotel franchise platform which allows us to work with owners in a way that suits their business and their investment strategies.

You mentioned management capabilities, are you still seeing growth in HMA?

At Accor, we have always taken great care to work with our owners in the spirit of partnership. This means we align our business with what owners are looking for. The reality is that HMA remain the preferred option for most new projects and premium and luxury developments. Not only does this help owners of these assets, it also gives confidence to investors and financiers that their assets are being looked after by the largest hotel operator in the region.

Our owners have the unique opportunity to leverage our international brands and global loyalty programs, while also having a local management structure that knows the market intimately. Owners are able to boost their hotel’s revenue potential, enhancing its market visibility, and benefiting from cost-saving measures while still maintaining control over key strategic decisions.

Accor Pacific’s new Chief Operating Officer for PM&E Adrian Williams pictured with Michelle Bradshaw and Nathan Cox

There’s been a lot of discussion about your growth in franchise lately. Can you share more about this?

We have been operating in this space for 25 years in the Pacific so really this is nothing new for us. As the industry has grown and matured, so has our franchise division. We have a sophisticated approach and work closely with our franchise partners to give them the tools they need to run their Accor branded hotel successfully. We have a dedicated franchise team that are amazing at working with our franchise owners either directly or with third party operators.

For us, we see growth in franchise as an option for sure. Right now we are seeing most interest in conversions where owners are looking for the added strength our distribution and loyalty platforms bring and also the efficiencies gained by connecting to our local scale. For example, our procurement platform provides great savings that are very attractive for owners looking for ways to improve performance.

In Sydney, you have Accor Stadium, how is that massive investment performing?

This is very much in line with our central strategy of driving strong top line business efficiently to our hotels. Accor Stadium in Sydney is host of incredible events including the NRL Grand Final, the State of Origin, Taylor Swift, Coldplay and next year the British and Irish Lions tour. This brings Accor and our brands front of mind for all these world class events and helps us introduce more people to our loyalty program, which generates direct bookings for our hotels.

We know this is working too, can you believe that more than one in five people in Australia and New Zealand are now a member of ALL – Accor Live Limitless, our award-winning loyalty program. We use the stadium for amazing events and money can’t buy experiences for our members and we also have many additional exclusive opportunities through our partners in the travel, sports, entertainment and experiences sectors.

Accor Stadium Australia naming
Accor Stadium

What do you think about the future of F&B in hotels and how are you approaching this?

I started in hotels at Fairmont Banff Springs in Canada, working in F&B. It is a truly iconic hotel with many exciting bars and restaurants. Right from the start of my career, I could see guests loved these spaces as a place to meet, entertain and engage.

We have that same approach here in the Pacific. We’re making dining the heart and soul of our hotels by delivering iconic venues that engage both our guests and locals. We’ve recently bolstered our commitment to driving F&B performance with a newly assembled team, spearheaded by Ben Creek, who has global experience most recently with Merivale. Ben’s mission is to enhance the capabilities of our teams, bring in strategic partners and translate this into vibrant, dynamic spaces that have increase contribution for owners.

Accor’s Heartist program has long been considered best in class. What’s at the heart of Accor’s people strategy?

It’s all about fostering a culture of care and connection. This isn’t just about policies; it’s about how we retain our talent and attract the best of the best. We’re committed to providing a range of opportunities for personal and professional growth, creating an inclusive and supportive atmosphere, and paving clear pathways to success worldwide. It’s about cultivating a team that’s not only skilled but also genuinely passionate and authentic.

One of the great things about our industry is that we often get to train people for their first experience in a workplace, often training students while they are studying. Over time, of course they often leave for the career they studied for, but we love it when we hear that they are taking the skills and culture they’ve learned from our Heartist program to their new workplace. As an industry, we should be proud that we get to train so many people for their first job and at Accor we love that we get to share our Heartist program with them.

As we look ahead to the remainder of 2024, what are your biggest priorities?

Our focus remains on delivering exceptional outcomes for our teams, guests and partners. We are continually listening and learning as we evolve as a business to provide real value to all stakeholders. We understand the significance of our leadership position in the market, and we don’t take this for granted. We’re committed to sustaining it through innovation and sustainability efforts to not only support our industry but also the communities that have been integral to our 30+ year presence in the region. We are very proud of our 33-year history in the Pacific and are even more excited about the journey ahead.