Patrick Mendes, Accor
"We are marrying technology, innovation, sustainability and experience. We want to give you an experience before you stay and after you stay. The future of hospitality for us is what we call augmented hospitality."
Quote from Patrick Mendes, group chief commercial officer for Accor, in an article on PhocusWire this week about the chain's partnership with Citroen to develop autonomous mobility.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
Phocuswire has noted in the past that autonomous driving still appears to be a futuristic phenomenon - something to look forward to and seize further down the road.
This is especially true for a sector that is trying to do everything that it can to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than considering the introduction of a technology that is still in its infancy.
It will be, perhaps, only in 2022 and 2023 that autonomous driving becomes a serious agenda item on the R&D list of many brands.
We stand by that forecast - yet, there are some small moves that are taking place to either support that prediction or suggest that it's not just vehicle manufacturers that are sizing up the opportunity.
Earlier this week, Accor announced it had joined forces with car manufacturer Citroen and outdoor media company JCDecaux to unveil the Urban Collectif.
The service aims to advance the development of autonomous mobility in cities through electric pods that can be used for different transport needs.
The Sofitel En Voyage pod, which carries two to three people, could be used for transfers, shopping trips or a city experience while the Pullman Power Fitness enables users to exercise while commuting.
Such initiatives are important in the development of a cross-sector acceptance that autonomous vehicles will play an important role in the future of the industry.
Observers will be hoping that Accor's idea is not just a Virgin Atlantic-style Google Glass marketing wheeze (it's probably a lot more expensive to put into play, for starters).
Robotaxis are one thing, but how the world of autonomous vehicles can be used to enhance experiences in other areas of the industry is perhaps where the excitement of opportunity truly comes.
PhocusWire's editorials examine a trend or development highlighted in an article during the week.