Last October, Accor Hotels unveiled its five-year, 225 million euro plan for "reinventing the customer experience through technology." (See Tnooz's coverage.)
For an update, Tnooz spoke with a few key officials on its tech side.
A focus for the company is mobile, according to Jean Luc Chretien
Executive vice president, distribution sales and loyalty, who says:
"Today about 35% of the users of Accor's digital platforms are arriving by mobile devices.
If you look at bookings, it's already 12% coming through mobile. The target is to go to 40% bookings in three years' time, and half of all direct bookings through mobile within five years' time."
One portal for all
Today a little more than half of Accor's roughly $2 billion in digital revenue comes through Accor.com. The rest comes through the sites of its sub-brands like Ibis and Pullman.
Accor has many mobile apps for its various brands. But the company wants to rationalize that. It aspires to have only one app--Accor--within six months' time.
Market research surveys suggest that enough repeat customers are familiar with the parent brand of Accor that they would be comfortable booking through it instead of the sub-brands.
Accor partly enjoys this name recognition because it has long been the only global hotel company to use its web presence not purely to manage a loyalty program but also to drive bookings.
Accor also stands out from other global chains in taking an online travel agency approach to the selling of its 14 brands. It has 32 localised websites, such as an Arabic site, a Portuguese site, etc.), and these points of sale offer all 14 of the brands for the 3,600 hotels conglomerate.
Unlike its global chain rivals, Accor also manages all of these points of sale on its own. For example, Marriott instead uses a white-label Booking.com engine to manage its bookings through many of its local sites, such as its one for Brazil.
In 2015, Accor will also focus on improving the guest experience via technology. Case in point: housekeeping trolleys may be outfitted with tablet computers that show guest preferences, to avoid service mistakes.
The next batch of innovations will be around food and beverage at the hotel, says Chretien. The company will invest more in the technological infrastructure supporting its restaurants and room service.
To stay on the cutting edge, Accor has been working closely with Paris's The Innovation Factory for creative applications of technologies, such as the use of Google Glass by employees.
Making Accor the center throughout the trip journey
Romain Roulleau, senior vice-president of ecommerce, says:
"We're redesigning our digital platforms because we believe the user's needs, habits, and expectations change when their main way of planning, booking, and enjoying a trip is through their mobile device."
"Customers are more interested in trip inspiration tools than they used to be because the tools are now, finally, at the right place at the optimal time: in their hand."
Customers looking to book hotels on mobile devices are increasingly consuming video because it can be a more efficient way to judge a hotel. So the AccorHotels site and app now has TvTrip create promotional videos of about a thousand of its hotels.
Prior to arrival at a hotel they've booked, customers will receive offers to buy upgrades, pending availability, either via email or app.
If a customer has stayed at Accor properties before, their booking history and preferences for amenities has been recorded. The company uses this data to create custom messaging for repeat visitors on the homepage of AccorHotels.com and its soon-to-be-revamped app.
In the past year-and-a-half, the company has been using predictive analytics to improve its marketing. If a customer has an upcoming trip to, say, London, he or she will see pre-stay trip-planning information for London on the AccorHotels.com homepage.
If the company knows that a guest tends to visit, say, Hong Kong every three months, the next time the guest visits the AccorHotels platform he or she will see the latest offers on hotels in that city -- particularly hotels of a similar class to the type the customer has booked before.
Looking ahead, once a guest checks in, the app will send him or her a push message (if they have opted in to receive such notifications). The messages will offer details about the property's amenities.
As a guest, when you arrive at a hotel, the app will push information to you about the property's amenities, from the hours the gym and spas are open to the menus of the on-site restaurants.
Besides offering air and car rental reservations, the Accor app will also offer local restaurant and attraction information. The intent is to make the app a travel companion not unlike trip-planning apps such as TripIt or TripCase.
To that end, last October Accor acquired Wipolo, a web and mobile startup. (See Tnooz's past coverage.)
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