The Growth Code Reviewed by Momizat on . AccorHotels’ VP, sales for Asia Pacific, Kerry Healy, is upbeat about the company’s growth momentum in India By Vinita Bhatia While most hotel chains like to ta AccorHotels’ VP, sales for Asia Pacific, Kerry Healy, is upbeat about the company’s growth momentum in India By Vinita Bhatia While most hotel chains like to ta Rating: 0
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The Growth Code

AccorHotels’ VP, sales for Asia Pacific, Kerry Healy, is upbeat about the company’s growth momentum in India

By Vinita Bhatia

While most hotel chains like to talk about the number of hotels they have in their portfolio, Kerry Healy, VP, sales of Asia Pacific at AccorHotels prefers to discuss about customised and personalised offerings that the company offers through its various brands in the region. She believes that this has helped AccorHotels to stay ahead of the business curve by anticipating the market changes and responding to them fairly quickly. At a time when the hospitality industry is witnessing disruption from technology, aggregators and even guest expectations, she explains how this European hotel firm is focusing on providing customised solutions for the vast international community of millennial-minded trendsetters who are revolutionising the market. Its millennial-centric brands are designed to break the conventional vertical distribution of spaces and functions and taking a liberated, flexible and rebellious approach to meet the expectations of its guests.
Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview with Hotelier India:

What is AccorHotels’s current hotel portfolio in APAC and India? How many are under develo pment in APAC and in India, respectively, and are slated to open by 2020?
Kerry Healy: AccorHotels is a world-leading travel and lifestyle group with a presence in 22 countries. We are the number one hotel operator in multiple markets in the region including India, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, etc. Currently, AccorHotels has over 830 hotels in Asia Pacific and the region represents close to 50% of our secured pipeline.
In India, we are continuing our growth momentum, expanding our hotel network across international luxury, upscale to midscale and economy brands. This year, we launched four new hotels, i.e., ibis Pune Hinjewadi, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Mercure Chennai Sriperumbudur and Novotel Kochi Infopark. We are looking at touching the 80-hotel mark in India by 2020 with another four new properties.

The midscale space is getting extremely crowded in the country. Is there a need for AccorHotels to rejuvenate any of its brands in this space to uphold its brand equity?
Kerry Healy: Travellers’ demands and choices have changed drastically over the past decade. These include the need for customised and personalised offerings, unique and local experiences, just to name a few, and at AccorHotels, we have been able to keep up with these trends while maintaining our brand’s sanctity.
For example, at the Novotel hotels, we have included multiple touch points for guests. Whether it is the hotel’s lobby or while walking down the floor corridor, at any given point our team acknowledges our guests ensuring that they always ‘Feel Welcome’ while they are away from home.

Coming to brands, which is easier from a business perspective – growing one organically or acquiring one?
Kerry Healy: AccorHotels’ strategy is a combination of organic and inorganic expansion. Today, we have over 26 brands worldwide. As a French company that has been in India for over a decade, we inculcated the ‘Born in France and Made in India’ concept. This allows us to bring over nine international brands into the country without compromising on the brand ethos, while at the same time adapting to the Indian culture. This is a reflection across our brands, whether it is the Fairmont, ibis, Novotel or Pullman.

How do you constantly reinvent your existing brands to keep them relevant?
Kerry Healy: AccorHotels believes in staying ahead of the curve by anticipating the market changes and responding to them fairly quickly. I think that making the right investments is critical. This means investing in technologies that allow us to stay relevant by customising and personalising customer experiences.

Last year, AccorHotels launched the AccorLocal app, which allows hoteliers to promote their hospitality services to local residents and non-guests. Has this service been introduced in India yet?
Kerry Healy: The AccorLocal app is a technology solution designed to create social connections and value for small businesses and staff members at our hotels.
Globally, AccorHotels is working on developing several partnerships with local businesses and key brands. Currently, the app has more than 3,000 active users and 250 participating hotels in 42 cities across France, and we hope to extend the service around the world by 2019.

Many global hotel chains are making a strategic shift to a technology-oriented company, rather than staying just a hospitality organisation. How is AccorHotels’ evolving into a technology player globally and especially in India?
Kerry Healy: Over the years, AccorHotels has also expanded its focus from being solely a hospitality brand to a world-leading travel and lifestyle group in addition to being a digital innovator. Going beyond traditional hotel offerings, it also offers private homes on rent across the globe. It also provides an innovative end-to-end service across the entire traveller experience, through various acquisitions, including John Paul, the world leader in concierge services.
We leverage on technology to improve our services and build on current experiences. For example, we have invested €225 million over five years to enhance the digital experience of our customers, partners and employees. Furthermore, we have also launched an artificial intelligence based chatbot called, Phil Welcome, which enables guests to make hotel bookings, arrivals and look up things to do in the city they’re visiting.

How is AccorHotels gearing up to provide luxury hotel experiences to millennials who are more nonchalant in their approach towards lifestyle? How is it using CRS, mobile apps and loyalty programmes to personalise guest experience with targeted offers and information?
Kerry Healy: We believe that millennials are disrupting the way hotel operators are viewing experiences. A millennial traveller is seeking the unique and personalised experiences. They will probably be uninterested in a spa experiential at a hotel, instead they might instead want to live in a hotel that provides a more localised feel – an experience that our brand Mama Shelter provides.
As the second largest operator in the luxury space, we provide customised solutions for the vast international community of millennial-minded trendsetters revolutionising the market. Our millennial centric brands are designed to break the conventional vertical distribution of spaces and functions and taking a liberated, flexible and rebellious approach to meet the expectations of its guests.
AccorHotels places digital technology at the core of its services to guests at every stage of their hotel experience – before, during and after their stay. Personalised guest experience has taken the form of encouraging them to book rooms and manage their stays using our brand website.

Do you think that in the dynamic hospitality industry lengthy management contracts are outmoded and need to be replaced with agreements that have shorter tenures?
Kerry Healy: We believe that a well-negotiated management contract should ideally align with the interests of both parties. As an owner, the major goals should be to partner with a management company that will help in maximising profitability and value of asset while ensuring the operator is provided with incentives to work towards maintaining brand ethos. In the hospitality industry we usually find that as a rule, the higher the market positioning of the hotel, the longer the initial term of the contract. According to a recent HVS survey, it was found that operators prefer longer contract terms with renewal options in their favour, whereas flexibility is likely to be more important for owners. Thus, there is a preference for a shorter initial term and renewal options by mutual consent.

How is AccorHotels focusing on building a unified culture, which encompasses its associates as franchisees so that they follow a common set of goals?
Kerry Healy: Our success as a diverse group is built on strong values like passion, trust, spirit of conquest, sustainable performance and innovation. At AccorHotels, we live by our values to ensure that guests ‘Feel Welcome’ when they stay with us while providing them with a ‘home away from home’ experience.
Similarly, ‘Feel Valued’ is our pledge for our employees to enjoy a positive and fulfilling experience. Empowering people, encouraging their talent to blossom and caring about the wellbeing and balance has helped us to spur innovation, grow local roots, step up performance and nurture dedication. Our employees are at the center of everything we do and this empowers us to constantly innovate to serve our guests better.

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