Accor expansion has caused ‘brand confusion’ but changes may be made

The number of brands within the AccorHotels portfolio has more than trebled in the past five years to 38, causing confusion in the marketplace. But the business reconstruction is still a work in progress and “anything is on the table”, according to senior VP Rick Harvey Lam.

The man in charge of marketing luxury and upscale brands was speaking at Accor’s annual showcase called the Global Meeting Exchange for the meetings market in Montreux, Switzerland, and said: “It is confusing and we may have to make changes.” Accor is currently working on a huge pipeline of properties throughout India and is arguably the biggest investor in the hospitality industry in the country.

The brands have leapt from 12 to 38 in number as the company has expanded dramatically, predominantly through acquisition. Lam admitted: “Acquiring the businesses was the easy bit – making it all fit is much more difficult.

“Sixty per cent of my job is trying to articulate the meaning of the brands to ensure there is enough clear blue water between them. This is a long, long journey and we have made a start. We may have to make changes. The strongest core brands will remain but there are some brands that will have smaller networks. Some will remain regional as they are not all globally relevant. Anything is on the table and we need to look at this dispassionately.

“We are trying to judge whether hotels are on brand or are brand detractors. If we can rebrand a property, we will or they may exit the system. And where we see there are too much overlaps we may have to take difficult decisions where we may have to merge brands. But I accept we can do a better job of projecting the big picture. We don’t want to be the biggest but we want to be balanced across all segments with augmented hospitality. We want to be the best.”

AccorHotels has moved from a predominantly mid-priced European (French) business to a worldwide offering with a considerable footprint in the luxury end of the market. The Global Meeting Exchange attracted 280 participants of which 130 were clients. Accor brands currently comprise: Raffles, Fairmont, Banyan Tree, Sofitel Legend, Rixos, So Sofitel, Sofitel, Onefinestay, MGallery, Dhawa, Cassia, Pullman, Swissôtel, Angsana, 25hours, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter, Adagio, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget, JO&JOE, hotelF1, Thalassa sea & spa.