Interview with Patrick Mendes, Group Sales and Marketing Director, in charge of Sales, Marketing, Distribution and Loyalty activities at Accor. A discussion with Vanguélis Panayotis, CEO MKG Consulting.
Could you remind us of what was your background at Accor before joining this quarter in Paris?
Patrick Mendes: Fifteen years at Accor. I spent five years in Paris when I started, I oversaw the global sales and as I moved to operation, I moved in San Paulo. I stayed about nine years in Latin America developing and managing as a CEO, the whole region. We doubled the size there, so it was a very interesting region. I am back in Paris, let's say a year.
What is the scope of your responsibilities now in Paris?
Patrick Mendes: We decided to reshuffle the organization of Accor about a year ago. We now have eight geographic hubs in each region, we have eight operational managers and CEOs. We created under the same hat or the same umbrella a department called SMDL, it means Sales and Distribution.
We have five boxes in fact, the first is Sales and Distribution, managing all the corporate clients all the meetings and events, all the sales.
Digital Factory, we created a digital factory to manage all our digital assets: websites, app, connectivity, solutions etc.
Loyalty, managing ALL but also all the partnership, this is a third box.
The fourth box is linked to marketing, we have today more than 40 brands, so we have a full team managing those brands.
The last one is managing performance, revenue management, analytics, and strategy.
What is the feedback in terms of market trends?
Patrick Mendes: We could feel a turning point in September.
For the first time at Accor on the eight hubs, we were better than expected and we've seen some very incredible ramp up in certain regions like Middle East and Africa, Southern Europe, even North America was coming back strongly. The temperature today is pretty good, we are still roughly 30% behind 2019. We are still not there but it's improving every week gaining roughly two to three points of occupancy versus 2019 every week.
A lot of people see Accor as a mid-scale and eco brand European. It has totally changed the last 10 years; we are now leader everywhere.
I was in Dubai a few weeks ago. This is crazy!
Accor is booming everywhere and with mini brands plus all the development we did in lifestyle, luxury, ultra-luxury. We have totally changed the ID Card of Accor in seven to eight years.
You recently announced some interesting partnership in sports. Can you tell us a little bit?
Patrick Mendes: We did some major moves in sports. We announced three things on the last two weeks.
The first one, we created a new company called ResaEvent. This company is a managing accommodation banks, managing hospitality and bookings for any chain. We are managing hotel bookings for all the change during two big events (Rugby World Cup 2023 and the Olympic Games Paris 2024).
How do you see your missions to create value for those partners?
Patrick Mendes: Well, it's an important one because of course everything we're doing here has an objective, must generate traffic, business and a profitable business for our owners, franchisees, and partners.
ALL, our loyalty program. We are trying to bring more business to our hotels and for that we need to accelerate the recruitment of all members we have today roughly 70 million members by increasing the number of activities we have with these members.
Sometimes they use us once a year, twice a year by adding lots of brands and lots of services. We are trying to develop the guest lifetime value or the guest value for our owners.
The second one is what we call digital in our industry. We created a Digital Factory that has one objective to increase or to improve the digital experience of our guests both in the apps or in the in the web in general to make sure that we are driving direct business for our hotels. We have now a factory which is internal developing with our coder, with our in-source, with our in-house developers, developing functionalities to improve digital experience.
You recently launched a visa payment card. What is the idea behind? How could it leverage the guest experience?
Patrick Mendes: We decided to develop and to launch in July 2021 a payment card called ALL Visa. Developed with visa and BNP. With this card, you don't need to change your bank account. You can buy a paper or buy a room or buy a hair ticket or anything not related to travel. You earn points and you can burn those points.
How will you embody all these challenges you have within your department in the coming five years?
Patrick Mendes: We have many challenges of course but we have two challenges that are important for us.
Number one is clearly ALL Accor Live Limitless loyalty program. For me it's key because it's bringing business, it's allowing us to control or to know our clients and to bring those clients a much wider experience than only hotel booking or hotel room.
Number two, I will point to the brands. What we are doing with the brands is something unique, I started at Accor 15 years ago, we had 14 brands. We now have 42 brands, it's a great adventure for the group, for our consumer because we are going from luxury, premium, lifestyle, FnB, economy, mid-scale brands.
We can easily say to our guests use all.com in your app or in your smartphone and with all.com you can do everything you want when you're out of home.
You can go book any room for any category for your family when you're traveling for business or for leisure or you can book a restaurant or go in a PSG or use an experience we are providing through the app.
What could we wish for you and the industry?
It’s my first Christmas in Paris for the last 10 years. I’m very happy because I will rediscover the family life in my country because I’m French of course but I’ve been living abroad for many years. I’m very happy to be back and professionally what we can wish for all of us not for Accor only but for the industry that what we are seeing will be maintained.
Which means that the trend, the ramp up we are seeing in the market will sustain.
I’m optimistic about the next months to come. Let's make sure that what we are planning in our budget will be much below what will happen in the markets.