Accor Hotels delivered strong and positive messages, unveiled a new relationship with Tennis Australia and gave away a car at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Tuesday night in the ever-popular AccorHotels Showcase.
The event, previously known as World of Accor, is the largest hotel expo in Asia Pacific. This year, AccorHotels Showcase entered its 12th year touring the Asia Pacific region, a milestone for the hotel exhibition series. It was attended in Sydney by 800 travel industry guests.
At a media conference before the main event, AccorHotels chief operating officer, Pacific, Simon McGrath, was pressed by journalist Barrie Cassidy on the controversial subject of penalty rates.
The key, McGrath said, was that people in the hotel industry should be well paid. They shouldn’t have to depend on weekend loadings to make a decent wage.
AccorHotels chief operating officer Simon McGrath wears white gloves to lift the Australian Open trophy cup
“We want our people to be paid well,” McGrath declared. He admitted Saturday and Sunday were somewhat of a stumbling block for the industry and more flexibility was needed. It wasn’t good when visitors to a city found restaurants closed in the weekend. There was a need, however, for the hospitality industry to pay people well up-front.
McGrath said the Australian dollar seemed to be at about the right level, and USD 70 cents to USD 75 cents appeared to be the “sweet spot”, though he conceded he was not an economist.
Hotel supply followed good government, he said. History showed that when investment was placed in infrastructure such as airports, convention centres and similar, the payback was “very strong”. Ideally, government could facilitate these, or at least smooth the way for them.
McGrath said AccorHotels’ 200 properties made the group the clear leader in the marketplace, with over 14 hotels in the pipeline, including key projects like Sofitel Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Pullman Sydney Airport, Pulman & ibis Brisbane Airport and ibis Brisbane Elizabeth Street.
On the subject of review sites, McGrath said that if hotels had a strategy, review sites such as TripAdvisor were an opportunity. If they didn’t, review sites were a nightmare.
“The industry is returning to service, and that’s got to be good,” he noted. Word-of-mouth had always been important, and review sites were a digitised form of word-of-mouth. Guest feedback was increasing fourfold every year through TripAdvisor and the like.
McGrath said AccorHotels had launched a five-year digital plan backed by EUR 225 million (AUD 333 million) investment. It addressed all digital channels aiming to make AccorHotels the leader of a fast-changing industry. The redesigned all-in-one AccorHotels mobile app was set to become the “must-have travel companion”. Accorhotels.com has 32 geo-localised versions in 18 languages and attracts 10 million visitors a month.
Online booking agents took about 25% to 35% of total bookings in Australia, McGrath said. He touched on the strong performance of AccorHotels loyalty, which has notched up a 37% increase in membership over the past 12 months. One in 17 Australians are now members of Le Club AccorHotels. There are 1.4 million members in Australia and 19 million globally.
On another point, McGrath said Airbnb properties so far tended to be located outside the CBD and appealed to the Millennial demographic. The “halo effect” of Millennials would benefit the hotel industry, he said.
Melissa Doyle, Larry Embur and Peugeot winner Ina Choy
Regarding Airbnb, McGrath said: “We have one competitive edge. We control service.” Service consistency would be increasingly important.
McGrath revealed that Tennis Australia has joined forces with AccorHotels as an Official Partner of the Australian Open. The move aims to deliver an enhanced customer service experience for tennis fans.
The Australian Open Trophy Cups, for the winners of the men’s and women’s finals, were on display at AccorHotels Showcase on Tuesday evening. Travel industry guests lined up to get photographed with them. Official holders of the cups are Novak Djokovic (Serbia) and Serena Williams (USA).
The three-year tennis partnership will see AccorHotels provide a dedicated concierge service to Australian Open fans, customer service training to staff in the media and player information hubs, host key events in both Australia and Asia, and provide exclusive benefits to members of its Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program.
“The Australian Open is a pinnacle sporting event in the world and we are honoured to be named as Official Partner for the event as well as the Official Partner for the Australian Open Asia Pacific Wildcard event,” McGrath said.
“This year the Australian Open attracted more than 700,000 people to Melbourne Park and reached a global viewing audience of 370 million worldwide. We are delighted that our partnership will also extend to China for the Australian Open Wildcard event, which will deliver AccorHotels branding and hospitality across the region.
“The Australian Open attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Australia each year and we are proud to be associated with an event of this calibre,” McGrath continued.
“AccorHotels has a strong history of supporting sporting excellence in Australia and this partnership is the perfect way for us to promote Australia as a great travel destination and share our passion for customer service, while giving our loyalty members unique access to one of the world’s landmark sporting events.”
The highlight of the AccorHotels Showcase evening, as always, centres on a brand new Peugeot car.
Global Travel Media managing editor Australasia, Peter Needham, with Australian Open tennis trophy cups
The winner this year was one of AccorHotel’s corporate clients, Ina Choy, travel consultant at Wing On Tours. She’s now driving around Sydney in style in her new AUD 30,000 Peugeot 208.
Choy was one of five lucky attendees winning a key that had the potential to unlock the door for the Peugeot.
Host Melissa Doyle and Channel 7’s Larry Emdur gathered the five finalists next to the Peugeot and Ina was the second to step forward to see if her key unlocked the car door. It did. Lights flashed, Choy was in a state of shock, winning the car just one week into her new job!
She all but drove the car with her Wings on Tour team straight out of Sofitel Sydney Wentworth’s Grand Ballroom and into the night.
The Peugeot prize was one of a series of accommodation and travel prizes drawn during the evening. Other prizes awarded to lucky guests included two Qantas business class flights with accommodation for three nights at Pullman Park Lane and accommodation vouchers for properties across the region including destinations such as Manilla and New York.
Over 100 Accor delegates representing over 94 countries and nearly 3800 hotels were on hand to discuss with the travel industry AccorHotel’s newest product – ranging from the new beach club at Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa to new midscale Mercure Newcastle Airport and economy ibis Mackay Airport.
Attendees were well entertained throughout the evening and a collection of Robert Oatley wines ensured that guests remained fully hydrated.
Written by Peter Needham