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Accor To Double ME Inventory, Invest €225 Million In Digital

French hospitality giant confident about region's outlook and identifies eight key tech areas

Accor HotelServices Middle East plans to double its Middle East room count to over 30,000 by 2020.

The group’s Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin – who will officially open Sofitel Dubai Downtown on Tuesday – said the new target reflects its confidence in the future of the region.

“From a global perspective, we see strong growth potential in the region given that there are on average only two rooms per 1,000 inhabitants in the Middle East, compared to 10 and above in more matured markets,” he said.

“Across all our segments, from economy to luxury, we are seeing rising demand for the development of more hotels, which is why we introduced three new brands in the region during 2014 – Adagio serviced apartments, Majlis Grand Mercure and ibis Styles.”

He cited the GCC’s improving infrastructure, Dubai hosting Expo 2020, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s target to attract 20 million visitors to its holy cities of Makkah and Madinah as key factors underpinning its expansion.

Accor is pumping €225 million into developing its digital services in the next five years. Capital expenditure will account for 55 per cent of the total, and operating expenditure the remainder.

In all, 60 per cent invested will be aimed at consolidating the group’s current performance by improving middle and back-office solutions and the balance used to expand market share and optimise distribution unit costs.

The group has bought French start-up Wipolo, a travel software company that offers mobile and web itinerary management services, to help drive its digital changes, which divide into eight areas.

Mobile first incorporates all Accor’s services into a single mobile, cross-device app; Customer Centric is designed to bolster personal interaction through database management; Seamless Journey will integrate bookings, payments, check-in and loyalty; and MICE & BtoB will provide digital solutions for businesses.

The other four are Employee Friendly, which aims to improve online training and in-house communication through Accor Live; Owner & Franchise Centric will provide simplified revenue and billing processes from next year; infrastructure transformation, which will focus on systems that speed up the roll-out of new services; and Business Intelligence & Analytics, which will analyse large volumes of data.

By Dominic Ellis November 4, 2014
Gulf Business