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Accor buys FRHI Holdings (Fairmont, Raffles and Swiss˘tel)

Accor buys FRHI Holdings (Fairmont, Raffles and Swiss˘tel)

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Old Dec 11, 17, 7:22 pm   -   Wikipost
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What we know:

On 9 December 2015 Accorhotels announced an agreement with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) of Saudi Arabia and Oxford Properties, an Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) company for the acquisition of FRHI Holdings Ltd (FRHI), parent of Fairmont, Raffles, and Swiss˘tel. Accorhotels will be paying $840 million in cash and by issuing 46.7 million new shares. As part of the transaction, QIA will have two seats on Accorĺs board while KHC will take another.

FRHI?
FRHI is the holding company for the Fairmont, Raffles, and Swiss˘tel brands. FRHI is a management company and the portfolio is almost exclusively on long-term management contracts; i.e. this does not include the brick and mortar in most cases but long term leases of the hotels concerned. 155 hotels are included in the deal and 40 developments which equates to 56,000 rooms in total.

Fairmont
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a Canadian-based operator of hotels and resorts. Currently, Fairmont operates properties in 19 countries.
Canada: Banff, Calgary, Charlevoix, Edmonton, Jasper, Lake Louise, Mont Tremblant, Montebello, Montreal, Ottawa, QuÚbec City, Toronto, Vancouver (4), Victoria, Whistler, Winnipeg
United States: Berkeley, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Hawaii, Maui, New York, Newport Beach, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco (2), San Jose, Santa Monica, Scottsdale, Seattle, Sonoma, Telluride, Washington DC
Asia: Bali, Beijing, Jaipur, Jakarta, Kunshan, Manila, Nanjing, Shanghai, Singapore
Europe: Baku, Barcelona, Hamburg, Kiev, London, Monte Carlo, Montreux, St Andrews
Mexico, Caribbean and Bermuda: Barbados, Hamilton, Riviera Maya, Southampton
Middle East and Africa: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Cairo (3), Dubai (2), Makkah, Masai Mara, Mount Kenya, Nairobi, Zimbali (2)
In Development: Amman (2015), Austin (2017), Chengdu (2015), Fujairah (2015), Istanbul (2016), Lagos (2016), Moscow (2016), Riyadh (2015), Sharm el Sheikh (2015), Soma Bay (2020), Suzhou (2018), Taiyuan (2016), Zhengzhou (2018).

Fairmont has its own Flyertalk forum. It's current loyalty programme is called President's Club. The programme also covers Raffles and Swiss˘tel though the latter also operates its own loyalty programme.

Raffles
Raffles was established in 1887 in Singapore and currently comprises 12 luxury hotels with 4 in development.
Asia: Beijing, Hainan, Jakarta, Manila, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Singapore,
Europe: Istanbul, Paris,
Middle East and Africa: Dubai, Makkah, Praslin,
In Development: Jeddah (2018), Sharm el-Sheikh (2019), Shenzhen (2019), Warsaw (2017)

Swiss˘tel
Swiss˘tel was founded in 1980 as a joint venture between Swissair and NestlÚ and currently includes 37 properties in 17 countries.
Australia: Sydney
Asia: Beijing, Foshan, Kunshan, Shanghai, Kolkata, Osaka, Singapore (2), Bangkok (2), Phuket
Europe: Tallinn, Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, DŘsseldorf-Neuss, Amsterdam, Moscow, Sochi, Basel, Geneva (2), Zurich, Ankara, Bodrum (2), Istanbul (2), Izmir
Latin America: Quito, Lima,
United States: Chicago
Middle East: Makkah
In Development: Dhaka (2017), Sofia (2018), Changsha (2016), Chengdu (2016), Hangzhou (2019), Jinan (2020), Guayaquil (2017), Cairo (2020), Sharm el Sheikh (2016), Bali (2017), Jeddah (2017), Dubai (2018).

Swiss˘tel operates its own loyalty programme called Swiss˘tel Circle. This and Swiss˘tel hotels are currently being discussed in the Other Hotel Chains forum.

What happens next?
On 26 April 2016 Accor announced that it has received antitrust clearance for the purchase in relevant jurisdictions. The next step with be an extraordinary shareholders meeting (to be held on the 12th July 2016) to approve the capital increase and proposed board composition.

The deal closed on 12 July 2016. Nothing from a loyalty perspective will change immediately and the respective programmes and hotels will continue to operate as before.

FRHI inventory was loaded onto the Accor system on 12 July 2016, however none of the hotels will earn any points or can be used to redeem them. At the shareholder meeting Accor seemed to indicate that it will take 18 months for the loyalty aspects to be sorted. However it was clear that Le Club will be the future loyalty programme for all hotels.

Loyalty Integration
As of 2 July 2018 the Fairmont President's Club will cease to exist (the same goes for the Swissotel Circle). Both programmes will be folded into Le Club Accorhotels.

What does this mean for Le Club members? You will be able to earn and redeem points, and receive status related perks at all former FRHI hotels. This includes: early/late check in, welcome drink, upgrade (subject to availability), welcome amenity, free wifi. Lounge access for Platinum members will apply to Swissotel (where available) but does not include the Fairmont Gold Service (unless of course booked, including with points). Any stays at former FRHI hotels from January will contribute to your "night count" but no points will be accrued until 2 July.

What does this mean to FPC members? Members will be transferred into Le Club in July. Platinum members will become Le Club Platinum members, Premier will be Silver, Club will be standard members. The "nights stayed" count will transfer to Le Club in July and contribute to status in Le Club. However points will only accrue from July. Suite certificates can be used up beyond July.
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Old Jan 17, 16, 12:30 pm
  #76  
 
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Originally Posted by starflyergold View Post
Thanks ZenWorld ^ I'll make some changes. With the regard to the Fairmont Fit thing do people really use this?
Hmmm, I use Fairmont Fit in almost every Fairmont I go to, 'cos:

1. Travel Light: Provided are running shoes, workout gear (top and bottoms) and socks. (some may prefer their own socks though)
2. Less things to worry about laundry. Especially sweaty workout pieces.

If Fairmont retains this benefit for Accor Plats, you may grow to like it and use it often as well.

(Then again, I can only speak for myself. )
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Old Jan 17, 16, 12:45 pm
  #77  
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Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
If Fairmont retains this benefit for Accor Plats, you may grow to like it and use it often as well.
I'm sure there must be people who would, but most members of the FT Accor community tend to be more interested in drinks vouchers and lounge access.
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Old Jan 17, 16, 12:49 pm
  #78  
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Originally Posted by IMH View Post
I'm sure there must be people who would, but most members of the FT Accor community tend to be more interested in drinks vouchers and lounge access.
😇 I'd say you are right
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Old Jan 17, 16, 1:44 pm
  #79  
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Originally Posted by IMH View Post
I'm sure there must be people who would, but most members of the FT Accor community tend to be more interested in drinks vouchers and lounge access.
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Old Jan 17, 16, 10:38 pm
  #80  
 
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lol. I think I was asked if it was a useful benefit, rather than lounge access vs gym gear benefit comparison. (If I can only choose 1, there will be no doubts. )

Which is why I suggested putting Swissotel Eleva table into the comparison, as Eleva provides for Lounge Access in Swissotels.

I am actually waiting to see what the new line-up of the new Accor Elite benefits are, as with the addition of Fairmont & Swissotel, they can be really competitive, if they get the perks right.

Ironically, at the moment, there is nearly no way to be upgraded into a Swissotel Suite, as neither Eleva nor Fairmont Plat can have a shot at that upgrade (cannot use Fairmont Plat Suite cert in Swissotel). Hopefully that will change once it is under Accor, and Accor Plats can have a shot at it. (via Accor Suites voucher, or clauses that Suites upgrade is possible for Plats)

And Swissotel Stamford Crest Suites are unique as they are located at the top of the hotel (level 64-66), with their own club lounge (i.e. lounge for only the Suites guests - called "The Living Room"), and also a small gym for the Suites guest only located on 65th Floor. Views are great.
(It was a paid Suite booking - I never had an upgrade to this before. And I do not have experiences with other Swissotel Suites elsewhere.)

I think some Swissotels are pretty unique (and better than some Pullmans), while some others may not even match up to a Novotel.

Personally, I felt that Swissotel Stamford (with access to their normal executive lounge at Level 60 as a consideration), and Swissotel Osaka are quite good. Even Swissotel Berlin was not bad for me. And given the pictures and description of Swissotel Tallinn, I was quite impressed with that property too.

But I was not so impressed with Swissotel Zurich (ironically), and Swissotel Dusseldorf Neuss needs a refresh urgently (to put it nicely). So some Swissotels may need to be re-categorised, but I believe Swissotel can have their unique positioning.
(Swissotel Tallinn is also the tallest hotel in the city, like Swissotel Stamford in Singapore)
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Old Jan 24, 16, 4:53 am
  #81  
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Updated version now including Swiss˘tel

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Old Jan 28, 16, 6:04 am
  #82  
 
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Swissotel merged into LCAH

Hi,
Dunno if this has been shared before but I have it on good authority (from executive level Swissotel staff member) that at least Swissotels loyalty program will be combined with LCAH by July 2016.

Thought this could be helpful for someone.
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Old Jan 28, 16, 9:58 am
  #83  
 
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Originally Posted by starflyergold View Post
Updated version now including Swiss˘tel
Thanks for your table!

And from here, we can see that Fairmont Plat does almost nothing for the typical stays, unless you are using your 2 Suite Vouchers, or 2 room upgrade vouchers.

No Lounge ever, no breakfast ever as well, for Plats, for the entire year.

And unlike Hilton Gold members, where you can get Lounge access if you are upgraded into Club rooms, Fairmont Plats cannot use upgrade vouchers nor Suite Vouchers to access Lounge Floors (except in rare Fairmonts).

Swissotel, even at Eleva level, gets Lounge Access always, and Breakfast always. ^
(Zenit is nearly impossible - too little Swissotels to go around and 60 nights needed! And cannot mix Fairmont nights to get to Zenit!)

If the new Le Club takes the best of all programs, I think they will be really competitive.

I.e. Plat gets Suite upgrades certs (maybe like Hyatt - 4 yearly), unlimited other upgrades on availability, Lounge Access and Breakfasts. Late Checkout 4pm in line with SPG/Hyatt. (Fairmont Plat currently gets 5-6pm)
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Old Jan 28, 16, 10:38 am
  #84  
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Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
And from here, we can see that Fairmont Plat does almost nothing for the typical stays, unless you are using your 2 Suite Vouchers, or 2 room upgrade vouchers.
You're correct that FPC is a different type of program, but I think you're underestimating its value.

You only need ten stays or 30 nights (often less via various promos) to earn Plat status.

Plat members receive:

- two suite upgrade certs, valid for up to five nights each, confirmed at time of booking
- two room upgrade certs, valid for up to five nights each, confirmed at time of booking
- an additional suite upgrade cert and two more room upgrade certs (depending on your Plat Passion benefits selection)

The ability to confirm an upgrade to a suite on up to 15 nights per year at the time of booking - when it really matters to you (and often at hotels where suites would cost $500-$1000/night - is a benefit most FPC members find extremely valuable.

Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
If the new Le Club takes the best of all programs, I think they will be really competitive.

I.e. Plat gets Suite upgrades certs (maybe like Hyatt - 4 yearly), unlimited other upgrades on availability, Lounge Access and Breakfasts. Late Checkout 4pm in line with SPG/Hyatt. (Fairmont Plat currently gets 5-6pm)
While I'm unfortunately not very optimistic about the merger (based on Accor's rather unimpressive loyalty program and the fact that the larger the hotel chain gets, the fewer benefits they tend to offer), I'd be thrilled if your predictions were even partially true!
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Old Jan 28, 16, 10:53 am
  #85  
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
You only need ten stays or 30 nights (often less via various promos) to earn Plat status.
Worth keeping in mind we are talking frequent stay programmes

That said, picking the best of all three programmes would be very good advice for Accor.
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Old Jan 28, 16, 4:24 pm
  #86  
 
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Originally Posted by brokenwindow View Post
Hi,
Dunno if this has been shared before but I have it on good authority (from executive level Swissotel staff member) that at least Swissotels loyalty program will be combined with LCAH by July 2016.
Wow that is fast! I hate to think Fairmont's will be gone by then. Going to use my new round of certs as fast as I can after we get them.
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Old Jan 30, 16, 3:06 am
  #87  
 
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
You're correct that FPC is a different type of program, but I think you're underestimating its value.

You only need ten stays or 30 nights (often less via various promos) to earn Plat status.

Plat members receive:

- two suite upgrade certs, valid for up to five nights each, confirmed at time of booking
- two room upgrade certs, valid for up to five nights each, confirmed at time of booking
- an additional suite upgrade cert and two more room upgrade certs (depending on your Plat Passion benefits selection)

The ability to confirm an upgrade to a suite on up to 15 nights per year at the time of booking - when it really matters to you (and often at hotels where suites would cost $500-$1000/night - is a benefit most FPC members find extremely valuable.
Hmmm, as a current Fairmont Plat, Swissotel Eleva, SPG Plat, Hilton Diamond Plat, Accor Plat, I think I am in a fair position to critique the various pros and cons of each program.

I understand why a lot of Fairmont Plats are upset, mainly those who qualified under the big short-cut route of Canada's Amex Plat Charge Card - they simply needed to charge 5 stays or 5 nights to reach Platinum.

That said, Fairmont Plats outside North America are hardly seen. And I am based in Asia, qualified via the hard route of 10 stays/30 nights, without a single short cut. And the number of Fairmonts in Europe/Asia/Australia is limited. (Yes, they are going big in China; but none in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, etc)

I could hardly requalify for Fairmont Plat (cos of footprint issues), and without shortcuts, count the number of stays/nights I needed to do, that is without breakfast, without lounge access, and of course Suite-less.

If I stay with SPG, Hilton, Hyatt, I get lounge access, breakfast all the time, and my Suite upgrade success with SPG is good enough that I can easily beat my 2 or 3 Suite certs with Fairmont yearly.

The current Fairmont Loyalty Program is too skewed to benefiting certain groups of people, and guests outside North America are hardly incentivized to be loyal to Fairmont. This limits Fairmont's expansion outside North America, in terms of loyalty Program.

And not forgetting, we have near zero benefits when we stay at Swissotel as Fairmont Plats. (No issue with SPG across Westin, LM, Sheraton, or Hilton across Conrads, Hiltons, Doubletrees, etc).

The lack of Fairmont Plat benefits led me to maximise - Fairmont Fits , but to be honest, they are the leader in doing so. Westin copied the idea, but charges $5 for each set, while Fairmont lends it free. (So it is a $10 benefit for 2 pax) It helps me to travel light, so I do hope Fairmont retains this benefit and I think this is a luxury gesture.

I hope the new Accor after merger goes for competitive loyalty scheme as most of the things I suggest is already out in various competitor's programs.

Whether they take it up is up to them, but I think if they have a competitive program, loyalty will follow.
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Old Jan 30, 16, 3:09 am
  #88  
 
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
While I'm unfortunately not very optimistic about the merger (based on Accor's rather unimpressive loyalty program and the fact that the larger the hotel chain gets, the fewer benefits they tend to offer), I'd be thrilled if your predictions were even partially true!
We can only hope.

And I hope I have done my part to explain to Accor why they should retain the best of each programs for the new program.
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Old Jan 30, 16, 4:25 am
  #89  
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Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
I understand why a lot of Fairmont Plats are upset, mainly those who qualified under the big short-cut route of Canada's Amex Plat Charge Card - they simply needed to charge 5 stays or 5 nights to reach Platinum.

That said, Fairmont Plats outside North America are hardly seen. And I am based in Asia, qualified via the hard route of 10 stays/30 nights, without a single short cut. And the number of Fairmonts in Europe/Asia/Australia is limited. (Yes, they are going big in China; but none in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, etc)
You make some fair points. While there are Plat members outside NA, I'd assume most at least travel to NA a few times a year.

And yeah, qualifying the "regular" way myself while living outside NA was a bit of a pain, but it was still doable since I travel to NA somewhat regularly.

Btw, I'm sure you know this, but just in case: Should you be short a few nights, you can earn FPC stay credit for stays at Swissotel stays.

Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
I could hardly requalify for Fairmont Plat (cos of footprint issues), and without shortcuts, count the number of stays/nights I needed to do, that is without breakfast, without lounge access, and of course Suite-less.

If I stay with SPG, Hilton, Hyatt, I get lounge access, breakfast all the time, and my Suite upgrade success with SPG is good enough that I can easily beat my 2 or 3 Suite certs with Fairmont yearly.
I'd somewhat disagree with this statement, but it obviously depends on your stay pattern (one night stays vs. longer stays etc.)

The ability to confirm a suite upgrade for up to 15 out of 30 nights is what keeps many Plats loyal. While some SPG Plats surely have a 50% upgrade success rate, the ability to confirm the upgrade at time of booking make a big difference IMO. If I couldn't confirm an upgrade to those (usually very nice) one-bedroom suites when it matters to me (e.g. when travelling with others) I wouldn't be nearly as loyal as I am.

The only competitive (and possibly superior) program when it comes to suite upgrades is Hyatt Diamond IMO.

Originally Posted by ZenWorld View Post
The current Fairmont Loyalty Program is too skewed to benefiting certain groups of people, and guests outside North America are hardly incentivized to be loyal to Fairmont. This limits Fairmont's expansion outside North America, in terms of loyalty Program.
I agree, FPC would have many fewer members if it didn't:

1) offer free Premier status to Fairmont Chase credit card holders
2) fast-track status to AC status pax
3) fast-track Plat status to Cdn Amex Plat cardholders (5 nights vs. 30 nights)

That being said, I'd still argue it's an excellent program for anyone who is based in / travels to NA, even if one has to qualify the regular way.
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Old Jan 30, 16, 12:34 pm
  #90  
 
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
Btw, I'm sure you know this, but just in case: Should you be short a few nights, you can earn FPC stay credit for stays at Swissotel stays.

I'd somewhat disagree with this statement, but it obviously depends on your stay pattern (one night stays vs. longer stays etc.)

The ability to confirm a suite upgrade for up to 15 out of 30 nights is what keeps many Plats loyal. While some SPG Plats surely have a 50% upgrade success rate, the ability to confirm the upgrade at time of booking make a big difference IMO. If I couldn't confirm an upgrade to those (usually very nice) one-bedroom suites when it matters to me (e.g. when travelling with others) I wouldn't be nearly as loyal as I am.

The only competitive (and possibly superior) program when it comes to suite upgrades is Hyatt Diamond IMO.
Yeah, I definitely know the cross-crediting (Stay Swissotel, post to Fairmont FPC & vice-versa), but I can also tell you in reality, they hardly post properly. (and I spent a lot of time monitoring and chasing the cross-crediting, till I figured it is not worth doing so anymore - and I can tell you my Elite Status in both will run out this year. Effectively, if there is no merger, the 2 loyalty programs in their current form, would have lost me.)

And the biggest irony is the best way to maintain 2 programs, is to cross-credit all the time.
(Let me reveal the interesting strategy based on my understanding of the 2 programs and you can see the silliness of the Fairmont and Swissotel to be under separate loyalty.)

So first, FPC Plat - 10 Stays/30 nights. Swissotel Eleva - 20 nights in rolling 12 months, status last for 2 years. (That is right, many people did not realise - the status last for 2 years! )

So assuming you are a FPC Plat and Swissotel Eleva like myself: The shortest way to re-qualify is like this:

Yr 1 Jan-Jun: 10 stays in Swissotel in first 6 months; all 10 stays posted to Fairmont FPC. (Reason: Free Lounge, Free Breakfast for all 10 stays as Swissotel Eleva) 10 Stays re-qualified for Fairmont Plat

Yr 1 Jul-Dec: 10 nights in Fairmont, use 2 FPC Plat Suite vouchers, each 5 nights. Post to Swissotel Circle.

Yr 2 Jan-Jun: 10 nights in Fairmont, use 2 FPC Plat Suite Vouchers (from the new year), each 5 nights. Post to Swissotel Circle.
(Swissotel Eleva requalified for next 2 years; fulfilled 20 nights in rolling 12 months)

Yr 2 Jul-Dec: 10 Stays in Swissotel in last 6 months; all 10 stays posted to Fairmont FPC. (Free Lounge, Free Breakfast in Swissotel) 10 Stays re-qualified for Fairmont Plat.

Yr 3 & 4: repeat the abovementioned.
(And you start to get confused if doing 20 nights in rolling 12 months in Fairmont is for Fairmont Eleva, and 10 stays in Swissotel is for Swissotel Platinum. Anyway, this is all over by this year.)


However, I can tell you, I was chasing cross-crediting all the time, and it is not so straight forward we can execute the above so cleanly. (can we always stick to Swissotel/Fairmont in allocated time frame, given the pathetic footprints of both?)
Plus, There are just way too many places without Swissotel and Fairmont.

And I find myself doing some stays in Fairmont, wondering why as a Plat, I have no real benefits (when not using a Suite voucher), apart from, late check-out. (remember no breakfast, no lounge, no upgrades even if not using normal upgrade vouchers)

[And there was a property that I was a regular at, denying me late check-out as a Plat, telling me it was full house, without checking the system, and casting doubts if I was even a Plat.

That incident shifted my extra business out of Fairmont, into others like SPG, Hilton, Accor etc, and opened my eyes to how competitive other programs are like. Accor of course up their game a couple of years back to offer lounge Access to Plats. ^]

I got my Hyatt Diamond via matching, as SPG's current fantastic program is not likely to last in the MR-SPG merger. And i already found problems using my Suite Upgrades. (nothing available for 2 months in a particular Hyatt I was interested in)

I do not disagree that Hyatt's Suite upgrades work almost the same way as Fairmont's, but I am neutral to the current Accor's system (more similar to Hilton, less success rate than SPG) vis-a-vis a Hyatt/Fairmont system. I can see benefits of confirmed upgrades, but if I cannot use it because they capacity controlled it, as they want to try to sell the Suite, the ability to confirm the upgrade the Suite upfront is still just a moot point.
(And I do read that some Hyatt properties open the Suite upgrades only very close to the arrival date itself)

Hyatt Diamond system is great in the sense that Hyatt assures you an upgrade to highest room category just below Suite level, while still gives you 4 Suite Certs to frontrun others without it. In this aspect, I do vote for Le Club Accor going for a hybrid of current Accor-Hyatt/Fairmont system.
(and I read, in practise, Hyatt sometimes upgrade Diamonds to Suites, even without the Suite Certs. I do not have enough experience as Hyatt Diamond to comment based on personal experience yet.)

And finally, back to your original point - the remaining 15 nights (50% of the time!) without Suite upgrades, without breakfast, without lounge access in Fairmont - what is the point of being a FPC Plat?
(and hence, many FPC Plats needed the shortcut route; to minimise these benefit-less stays. If not, it would be very unattractive. )

However, I also note one other very important aspect of your emphasis in North America - many Fairmonts in NA are Virtuoso, and using Virtuoso rates, you can get free upgrades, free breakfast, amenities up to 100 USD.
And add chalking up Fairmont stay/night credits, it is still not that bad.

However, Fairmont outside NA, Virtuoso Fairmonts are a rarity. People who do not travel to NA enough, really find it too hard follow their loyalty program, which in turn, makes current Fairmont FPC unattractive to have properties re-flag into Fairmont, as they cannot channel sufficient loyalty members outside NA.

Accor's merger will change that (hopefully), I hope to see more Fairmont brand standards in Asia/Europe/Oceania, with the new Accor Loyalty Program channeling guests to sustain the Fairmont brand standards outside NA.
(At the moment, I will still put Fairmont ahead of Sofitel, so I believe Fairmont should be the top tier brand for Accor. )
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