AccorHotels lifestyle division head Cedric Gobilliard. AccorHotels lifestyle division head Cedric Gobilliard.

The community of brands currently comprising AccorHotels’ new lifestyle division had one singular thing in common before falling under the hotel company’s corporate umbrella; each one had a different provenance. Mama Shelter came to life borne out of a partnership between  Serge Trigano (a son of the Club Med founding family), hotelier Cyril Aouizerate and Philippe Starck. In Germany, 25Hours was founded by hotelier Kai Hollmann, after the success of his first Hamburg property.While AccorHotels bought stakes in Mama Shelter and 25 Hours – 35% and 30% respectively – Jo&Joe was created out of an incubator project initiated by the hotel group.

Another commonality that the three brands presently share is Cédric Gobilliard. With extensive experience in hospitality, eight years of which were spent with AccorHotels, the Parisian gives Hotelier Express an overview of how the lifestyle division has helped shape the three brands.

“We’ve been working with Mama Shelter for two years now and it was more concept than product when we started out. We understood that Mama Shelter was a specific type of product for a specific type of clientele and generation – a new segment that we need to develop for them,” he says.

“With 25Hours, the people are considered more important than the product. The creators of the brand invested more in the common areas and the people, than the rooms. The offering happens to be a restaurant with rooms upstairs because it’s all about experiences, sharing moments and all around F&B – which is a crucial anchor for this brand,” he adds.

But AccorHotels’ efforts to cover ground in a rapidly developing segment saw it develop a brand of its own – Jo&Joe. “We noticed the rise of the millennial traveller, who tend to look for Airbnb-style accommodation and so we developed Jo&Joe.

“We did not create this concept, but our consumers did. It was an incubator project, bringing new people together, asking them, ‘what do you want?’ Gobilliard says. Interestingly, the project revealed that the guest wants “everything”.

He explains: “We understood that it’s total schizophrenia. They [millennials] want everything, and all at the same time. They want the local aspect by understanding the culture and people. This generation is also digital. They are totally addicted to their iPhones and to any type of communication and connectivity, but on the other side, they look for a physical relationship as well.”

Gobilliard says that this doesn’t always translate to the guest seeking cheap accommodation but it should be affordable and of good quality. “They want to share, the power to decide, and privacy, all at the same time,” he reveals.

He states that AccorHotels has reinvented the wheel via Jo&Joe. “We decided to create a new product to reinvent a new type of concept. And that led to the inception of the ‘open house’, a space for mixed clients, both locals and travellers. It’s a location where you can meet and discover new people but you will still have privacy.”

The ‘open house’ gives way to a slightly more private enclosure, the ‘happy house’, accessible only by hotel residents for them to share, cook and do their laundry. In addition, Jo&Joe will offer three types of accommodation: shared rooms which can accommodate from four to 13 beds, private rooms and the ‘out of ordinary’ rooms.

“All of this is done keeping the local culture in mind, which is absolutely key for the lifestyle sector. We don’t want to be standardised. We need to adapt our product to the local approach. Ultimately through Jo&Joe, we want to build a strong community around the brand, a feat Mama Shelter and 25Hours have already managed to do.”

Gobilliard says a new generation of travellers has quashed previous travel perceptions. “To me, the new generation is  breaking the rules; they don’t care if it’s economy or luxury; three-, four- or five-star. It’s about having experiences.”

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