Michael Issenberg, Chairman & CEO Asia Pacific speaks about the past, where the group is today and the French giant’s ambitious plans for the future
Growing from one hotel to more than 200 in 25 years is an amazing achievement for Australia’s largest hotel group, AccorHotels, and this week will see the group mark the occasion alongside close to 2000 partners, guests, owners, celebrities and diplomats with a massive round of meetings and celebrations.
The festivities begin on Monday with the group transporting VIP guests to ‘A Night in Paris’ with a gala dinner at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, for which special performers have been flown in from the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
“We launched the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with the first-ever performance in Australia by the Moulin Rouge back in 2004, so we thought it fitting that we would have them back for our 25th anniversary celebrations,” said Michael Issenberg, Chairman & CEO AccorHotels Asia Pacific. “We are proud of our strong French heritage and at a time when tourism in France is really suffering we want to remind people of how magical the city of Paris is and how much France has influenced the global hospitality and luxury sectors.”
The evening has been two years in the planning, and – in conjunction with Atout France – will see high-end sponsors including Christian Louboutin, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Air France and China Southern Airlines come together to put on a night to remember for 400 special guests.
Later in the week the group will bring together more than 120 hotel executives from around the world for the acclaimed AccorHotels Showcase, the leading hotel expo in Asia Pacific. The event begins at 10.30am and finishes with a cocktail party hosted by Channel Seven celebrities Larry Emdur and Melissa Doyle and will attract up to 1000 delegates from across the industry.
“It has been an amazing year for AccorHotels with the acquisition of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel portfolio and we are delighted that these hotels will be represented at the AccorHotels Showcase for the first time including the Fairmont Banff Springs and Lake Louise amongst others,” said Michael Issenberg. “We see events such as this week as an investment in our business and our future.
“By saying thank you to our partners for their past support, we are also planning for our potential growth with them in coming years.”
Throughout the week AccorHotels will host a detailed briefing on the Australian market, one-on-one meetings with top buyers, three different client lunches, a press conference with Issenberg and Simon McGrath, Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Pacific which will hosted by Barrie Cassidy and a cocktail party where one lucky attendee will win a brand new Peugeot 208 while others will be lucky enough to walk away with a host of travel prizes to the group’s top hotels.
Michael Issenberg has been with AccorHotels since 1994 and has seen the enormous role the group has played in transforming the Australian hospitality scene.
“When I joined Accor we had fewer than 30 hotels in Australia and I could never have dreamed we would expand so quickly to become the largest operator in the country with a workforce in excess of 10,000,” he said. “I am proud to say that many of the staff who were with the group then are still working with AccorHotels today and have grown to become some of the most respected executives in the industry.”
AccorHotels has helped set the benchmarks for the hotel industry in Australia, launching brands for every taste and budget and marking several ‘firsts’ in the industry including:
– First group to launch a comprehensive CSR program and put environmental concerns at the centre of its operations with Planet 21
– First group to launch hotels within an Olympic precinct anywhere in the world (Sydney Olympic Park) and the first to develop a wide-ranging sporting sponsorship program including the Australian Open, Australian Swimming and Australian Rugby Union
– First group to launch an international time-share business in Australia with the launch of Accor Vacation Club
– First group to launch a comprehensive Indigenous Employment Program with the aim to employ up to 1000 indigenous Australians by 2018
– First group to partner with ECPAT to end child exploitation and first to sign with WATCH to further promote the protection of children
– First group to set 50% goal for representation of women General Managers (currently 38% in Australia)
– First group to open up its world-leading distribution platforms to external hoteliers
Issenberg says the future looks equally bright for the group, which is currently investing heavily in technology to improve the guest experience and in acquisitions in the burgeoning private rental sector.
“I am very proud of all that AccorHotels has achieved in Australia over the past quarter century but I think the next five years are going to be even more intense as the industry is undergoing a major shift due to digital disruptors that are completely changing how we think and how we operate,” said Issenberg. “The Millennial generation is also shifting how we do business and how we design and operate our hotels so it will be interesting to see what the future holds and how different the industry will be in another 25 years. Our aim is certainly to remain the leader in Australia and to expand the success we have had in this country throughout Asia Pacific.”