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European Strategy Forum: Tomorrow is already here, where is the hotel industry headed?

At the 19th edition of the Lodging Forum, CEOs from the groups Accor, B&B Hôtels, Louvre Hotels Group, Mövenpick and NH Hotel Group exchanged ideas about the future of the hotel industry with respect to the rapid evolution of technology, behavior and actors at the heart of the hotel industry.

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO, Accor:

Regarding China, we made an important and irreversible decision when we signed a partnership with Huazhu. We thus recognize that the economy and midscale segments on the Chinese market are in the hands of local players, that will develop our brands better  than we could. I believe there will be  a real consolidation between the four local players in China in the years to come.

Among the five priorities of the Accor group in the next five years, we expect a change in managerial culture. It is important to be aware that 90% of companies created in the digital world were founded by members of Generation Y. They have an ability to aggregate information and anticipate that is ten times higher than people from our generation. There is an enormous gap between these two generations who are nonetheless condemned to getting along.

The clientele at our hotels is aging. This is a concern that was revealed in a recent study about the brands Novotel and Mercure. It is necessary to think about how to conquer the new generations.

In the future, hotel groups will have more and more concepts and brands. It is nonetheless not possible to develop 15 brands in all the countries because that would cost too much. It is thus necessary to concentrate on certain destinations or brands.

The hotel industry is threatened by all the intermediaries that are trying to figure out how to benefit from the most profitable activities by progressively eating away at our margins. This is a real challenge for the future.

Jean-Gabriel Pérès, President and CEO, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts:

It is very difficult for a hotelier to be able to look ahead five years or more because events that affect our activity happen daily and unforeseeably. It is thus necessary to be reactive. We can only talk about growth when a group develops 10 to 15 hotels per year. That is good growth, not just cosmetic, but growth that creates real value.

It is necessary to revalorize the job of hotel manager, of whom we require much more. We must be able to convey very clear messages to them since they are very important to the customer's stay. They can help us win the battle against OTAs. It is also important to recruit people who speak the same language as our interlocutors, people who are able to bring us value that we will not lose to others.

I believe that in a few years there will be no more stars: only concepts. It is important to be very open and pragmatic and let things happen a little bit. Chinese investors and actors, for example, are looking for strong concepts and people who know how to create them.

Pierre Frédéric Roulot, President & CEO, Louvre Hotels Group:

Our business is changing, particularly with the arrival of Chinese actors. They are already present in our hotels and the trend will grow in the years to come, depending on how the world evolves. According to forecasts, 10% of China's population will travel, meaning 150 million travelers. The hotel group of tomorrow will be very Asian because that is the part of the world where business is happening today.

The concentration of hotel groups in all geographic areas is real and it is likely that in five years there will be five major powerful groups. very few of these will have a presence on all the segments. Strength makes the difference on the global scene, facilitating negotiations and making it possible to resist change, such as digital, and attract consumers. Moreover, we are faced with international clients, et and not just domestic ones in the catchment area. For all these reasons, this concentration is already under way and it will be spectacular and brutal.

Georges Sampeur, Chairman of the executive management board, B&B Hotels:

It is very difficult to project oneself into a rapidly changing world. Although our business is in some way protected (hotels cannot be moved and there will always be people who will ant to move), the environment it takes place in changes constantly. It is important to pay attention to these changes and try to anticipate them. Today the value of brands is often brought to doubt. It was customary to say that it took 15 or 20 years to create a brand while today several major brands were not known five years ago.

Most actors in the hotel industry wish to evolve internationally because the economy, like the world we live in, is global. Today it is difficult to keep local features.

The group B&B Hôtels is mono brand and wants to stay that way. I believe this is an efficient way to develop brand loyalty. We want to be the Ikea of the economy segment.

Federico Gonzalez Tereja, Chief Executive Officer, NH Hotel Group :

It is important to know customers well when they stay at our hotels and to remain faithful to goals. This makes it possible to control costs, especially by ensuring money is not spent on things that are not worth it.

At NH Hotel Group, we are trying to see that all our employees spend some time outside hotels because that is where things happen. In order to innovate, it is necessary to go see what is happening outside and spend time with investment funds.

We are currently experiencing a transformation of the hotel industry with greater attention being paid to Marketing, which previously did not exist. It is thus very important to remain coherent with the brand.

Also read:

  • Global Lodging Forum 2015: Advice from Paul Dubrule
  • Global Lodging Forum 2015: promote the destination to encourage hotel development?
  • Global Lodging Forum 2015: Seven work axes of the government to encourage tourism


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