Exclusive. Accor is preparing an alliance with a Gafa

This has been one of the most important announcements heard in the many debates of the 4th Summit of the economy of Challenges, the 30 November at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. The president of the Accor group, Sébastien Bazin, said he was in the process of preparing a strategic alliance with one of the giants of the net-economy, without specifying if it was Google, Facebook, a specialist in tourism or one of the platforms specialized in the reservation of hotels.

“I’ve been saying it for four years, Accor is not at war against the Booking, Sent, or any online platform. I’m just saying that the cost of intervention is too high”, was first required to specify the CEO of the hotel group. “Now we have to accept a reality : the vast majority of our clients come twice or three times per year in an Accor hotel so that the customers of Amazon come three or four times per week and those of Facebook ten times a day”. Always very persuasive when it comes to describing the challenges, and perils that characterize its competitive universe, he explained that he endeavored, therefore, to develop opportunities to generate revenue with a customer that does not even come once a month to sleep in one of its hotels. “I am interested, therefore, in his world of holidays with the company Travel Keys (vacation rentals), I am interested in the concierge digital to help find a cinema, a show or a restaurant with John Paul and then one decides to apply to the 6 billion people who do not travel, and among them, one billion of inhabitants of the major cities that are so close to one of my hotels. The number of these people will double by 2030 due to the rural exodus. These people here, I have to make their services, receive a package, propose a session of yoga… This initiative costs very little, because I mutualises 270 000 people working in 4,200 hotels and I amortized the existing facilities. Probably this can be a quarter, a third of the profits of Accor in five years”.

This promising path is explored even as the hotel group’s French is growing at a very fast pace in its business history “We open 260 hotels per year, or 40,000 rooms, and in the world we recruit 80 000 people each year, we lose 50 000 who are leaving us after having been trained, it is this growth which gives us the means to think of new activities,” says Sébastien Bazin.

“When I invested 100, they invest 1000”

“But my main concern is my strike force digital compared to that of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple as well as asian giants such as Alibaba. When I invested 100, they invest 1000. I will not be able to meet the expectations of my clients if I do tie not a strategic alliance with one or more of them. It have reached a size ten times larger than me in term of cash flow from operating activities, engineers to provision, contacts with customers, risk-taking potential”

The president of Accor able himself the risks of this strategy. “The corollary of such an alliance is that you can no longer back: you’re pregnant! It is therefore necessary to spend a lot of time to choose the right horse because you can’t change it, then in the course of the road. And you have no other choice than to join one of them if you want to be in the running for the 20 and 30 years. This is exactly the subject on which I spend the most time : with who? what does it do? how? and with what risk?”

“A marriage not suffered”

Decidedly verbose on the reasons that pushes him to prepare such an alliance, Sébastien Bazin, states basically that it is not a question of an alliance sustained : “it is not in the obligation to establish such a partnership, but we will do it because it is good for our development and our teams”.

When? “In two years, surely because we already had two mutations, digital very high but which have taken fifteen years. The first was the arrival of OTAS, the booking services professionals, a substantial change because it has changed the relations of our hotels with the customers, which are passed by these specialists. The second digital transformation, fifteen years later, it was AirBnb, and the explosion of the sharing economy. It is found that in the space of 18 months we’ve seen two new mutations : artificial intelligence and online payment. The last two are just as important as the first two. Therefore, with such an acceleration of the environment we need to be very fast!”

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