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Discussion with Mr Sébastien Bazin, Accor C.E.O.

Discussion with Mr Sébastien Bazin, Accor C.E.O.

Old May 30, 15, 4:57 pm
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Discussion with Mr Sébastien Bazin, Accor C.E.O.

Dear friends of the Accor Flyertalk forum
I had the chance (with 4 other Accor customers) to have a 90 min breakfast meeting/discussion with Mr Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accor this week at MGallery hotel Piscine Molitor in Paris. Mrs Birem, director of Le Club Accor hotels program was there also. This kind of opportunity is quite unique as you can imagine ! Mr Bazin explained us his vision of Accor and Le Club and he also asked us about what we liked and don’t like in Accor hotels and Le Club. As he said nothing we discussed was confidential and so it could be disclosed, I thought you would be happy to learn about this discussion.

First I’d like to start briefly about the meeting place : as you may know, this is one of the most recent Accor address in Paris. This is quite a unique place. It was a very famous public pool in Paris with its art-déco style, inaugurated in 1929 and closed in 1989. It had (I should rather say it has), 2 pools, one inner, and one oustside (now heated). This place remained abandoned since 1989 and has now been renovated and transformed for the best in a hotel, run by Accor under the MGallery brand. This hotel is located in SW of Paris, at the limit between Paris and Boulogne-Billancourt, near Roland Garros tennis courts (I’m saying this on purpose, as this meeting was during RG Paris Open and the hotel was full of current or ex-tennis champions like J. Mc Enroe, A. Mauresmo, etc). Here are a few pictures : I have to say that I’m not a big fan of the lobby with the unfinished factory style (apparent cables and tubes), but for the rest the renovation is very nice and the restaurant and pool area look quite appealling. There is a rooftop tapas bar which I haven’t seen but, living in Paris, I will give it a try as soon as RG Paris Open is over and on a sunny evening ! Mr Bazin explained that this place was special to him because he pushed this project which took many years to move forward and he negociated hard to have it under the Accor umbrella when he was still working at Colony Capital.











Mr Bazin first started by explaining us his move from Colony Capital hedge fund to Accor because he knew already very well the company from Colony (who is the main Accor shareholder) and he wanted to run the company and implement his own vision. He had quite a plan when he arrived as the CEO but he spent the 1st 6 months meeting with as many employees as he could to make a diagnosis. And he said that he changed some significant aspects of his plan after all those meetings. He said that Accor was a sleeping giant with many employees, including top executives working at Accor for 30+ years. Those top excecutives knew of course the company very well, but had no clue of all the on-going changes in the travel and hotel industry and were reluctant to any change, and so he decided to change them (I think he said 12/13 in the executive comitee). He wants to change the managerial culture in the group to be more efficient and closer to customer expectations.

The group has a clear willingness to invest in digital applications. This has already been announced a few months ago and I think we even had a thread started on this forum.

The priority of development for Accor is in the emerging markets as we already know, but I asked him about the US. With the strong local giants like Hilton, SPG, Hyatt, Mariott, we know that it’s not easy for Accor to develop there and that they have made the choice to stay at the moment with just a few properties (some Sofitel + 1 Novotel in NY). But those hotels are working quite well (my own perception but this was confirmed by the CEO), so I’m always disappointed to see that Accor is not present in more cities. Mr Bazin said that at the moment, there will be a limited growth there and that they do not exclude external acquisitions if some opportunities arise. He said also he was still quite upset about the big mistakes made in the past with Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn in which Accor lost a lot of money and that they could have bought Hilton who was on sale at that time… But here are a few scoops for you for the US market : Pullman and Ibis brands will arrive in the USA :
- Sofitel Miami and San Francisco bay will be downgraded to Pullman, because they are not matching the current Sofitel standards. Not really a surprise IMO.
- The 2 first Ibis hotels will open in the USA : one at NY-La Guardia airport and another one in Miami.

Regarding Le Club program, we (the customers present at this meeting) acknowledged all the considerable improvements made on the program for the last 2 years. But we also discussed some of the weak points/areas for improvement, particularly:
- the inconsistencies of implementation across hotels & lack of status recognition, particularly for the mid-brands (Novotel, Mercure) and particularly in some countries like France.
- the bad customer service line
Mr Bazin didn’t seem very surprised of this. About the 1st issue, he said that there is a certain proportion of « old » franchisés who are reluctant to any change. Contrarily to American hotel brands who are very strict on rules implementations and which do not hesitate to terminate an agreement with an hotel, Accor has never done that until now, but he said that there will be some in a near future and that it will be a strong signal for the others ^.

For the service line, I’m happy to report here that they are working on a Platinum service line (no commitment on the date).

He also said that they are working on providing other ways to reward loyalty/use of points for the top tier Le Club customers. He took the example of the hotel we were in for this meeting, saying that for Parisians, it could be quite nice to be able to spend some points there (at an advantageous rate of course) to enjoy the swimming pool with a good meal. I have to say that I agree it could be nice !

I will end this report giving you some figures we very often wonder about. They said that :
- there are 20 millions of Le Club members, among which 4 millions are active (20%). Active means at least 1 stay/year.
- 300-400K Silver members (so 7.5 to 10% of active members)
- 150K Gold members (so <4 % of active members)
- 70K Platinum members (so <2% of active members)
Those figures are slightly different than those we got in a thread back in march (based on 2013 figures) : much more members but still approx the same number which are actives. Similar % of Elites (calculated compared to the active memberships).
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/accor...e-members.html

There were also other subjects discussed (restaurants, Mama Shelter), but I have reported here the main topics.

Last edited by Goldorak; May 30, 15 at 5:33 pm
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Old May 30, 15, 6:11 pm
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Thanks for sharing Goldorak ^

My invitation must have gotten lost in the post
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Old May 30, 15, 6:47 pm
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Discussion with Mr Sébastien Bazin, Accor C.E.O.

Thanks Goldorak, at least they seems to be willing to engage and that's a start.
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Old May 31, 15, 1:50 am
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Thanks Goldorak, I am glad to hear this positive change at the very top.

And yes, Accor is a big sleeping giant, but there is a lot of deadwood within Accor as well, that hinders progress. CS is a very important part of any loyalty program and yet Le Club's CS is one of the very worst in the industry. It damages the image of Accor.

And unfortunately, I have been very turn-off by Le Club's CS handling, and I have reflected that with my wallet voting.

I will not write off Accor totally yet, especially after Goldorak's report of his dialogue with the CEO, but the current CS of Le Club is exceedingly poor, and sad to say, even on this forum, the performance of the current Accor Rep still leaves much to be desired.

Did OP bring up the issues of Aussie's Sofitel's non-participation for Plat's Lounge Access? I think it is un-chain-like behaviour, and I wonder if the CEO will make sure properties toe the line, or leave.

I will continue to monitor Accor, and I do not ruling out future positive votes with my wallet, but we must see improvements first.
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Old May 31, 15, 3:34 am
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Merci Goldorak. I wonder did you bid on the offer to stay this week? I recall months ago they emailed me with a deal to stay at this hotel for RG complete with tickets to some matches. I really wanted to, but couldn't fix the dates.
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Old May 31, 15, 3:52 am
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Originally Posted by starflyergold View Post
My invitation must have gotten lost in the post


Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
Did OP bring up the issues of Aussie's Sofitel's non-participation for Plat's Lounge Access? I think it is un-chain-like behaviour, and I wonder if the CEO will make sure properties toe the line, or leave.
I did not bring specifically this issue, as for me it was part of the "variable implementation level" and "local reluctances" and of course because of a lack of time (90 min goes very quickly). Let's hope
Again, the intentions at HQ level are very good and they have shown during the last 2 years that it was real. Now their main challenge IMO is to handle adequately the locals.
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Old May 31, 15, 11:00 am
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Thanks Goldorak, good to hear and good that they engaged some members of the program^

Staying at the Novotel Geneva Centre and very much missing the love here at this mid tier hotel, € 280 a night and no upgrade!

Hope they do improve the program, it has potential...
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Old May 31, 15, 11:04 am
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
Again, the intentions at HQ level are very good and they have shown during the last 2 years that it was real. Now their main challenge IMO is to handle adequately the locals.
I think Accor must show their willingness to cut non-compliant properties. That's the only way to get their properties to maintain brand standards.

I think the intentions at CEO's office is good.

CS is in HQ. It is still crap.
Until CEO office's intentions filter down to CS, and whip them into shape, I hold my horses and wait in hope.

May this sleeping giant awake.

(And yes, the first sign of a functioning CS can start with an Accor Rep here that can make things happen. And not just a post box to a black hole department - which is the current CS: mails that go in, never comes out again. )
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Old Jun 1, 15, 3:16 pm
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That's a brilliant report Goldorak, thanks for sharing.

Did they acknowledge the terrible track record on technology implementation?

I'm certainly hoping that they continue to improve as it's the main stay for Aussie hotels.
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Old Jun 2, 15, 12:16 am
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Originally Posted by PabloM View Post
Did they acknowledge the terrible track record on technology implementation?
We mentioned the frequent bugs on their websites.
Let's hope that major improvements on this are part of their digital strategy
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Old Jun 2, 15, 8:51 am
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Merci, M. Goldorak!
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Old Jun 3, 15, 4:41 am
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What a great opportunity you got. Thank you for sharing this. And surprisingly few Platinum members IMO.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by wkndtraveler View Post
What a great opportunity you got. Thank you for sharing this. And surprisingly few Platinum members IMO.
Indeed a great opportunity
For the number of plat members, this is not surprising IMO. The top status of a program always concerns a relatively very low number of people.
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Old Jun 3, 15, 4:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Goldorak View Post
Indeed a great opportunity
For the number of plat members, this is not surprising IMO. The top status of a program always concerns a relatively very low number of people.
I did expect it to be a bit higher than this - say 5-7% so I was a little surprised.

As others have said many thanks for the information, hope you had a good morning.

Out of curiosity, did you happen to see any of the rooms during your visit? It was a hotel I was looking at just a few weeks ago for later in the year.
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Old Jun 4, 15, 12:07 am
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Originally Posted by chrism20 View Post
Out of curiosity, did you happen to see any of the rooms during your visit? It was a hotel I was looking at just a few weeks ago for later in the year.
Unfortunately no. I would have liked but we had no time and in any case I don't think it would have been possible. I'm pretty sure the hotel was full because of Roland Garros.
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