Hotelier Middle East Power 50 2019: Number 2
Here's who made it to the top five list
Currently number two on Hotelier Middle East's Power 50 2019 list, Willis, who has more than 30 years of hospitality industry experience in key global markets, has spent a significant part of his career working in senior roles in the Middle East for brands including Accor, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotel Group (formerly Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) and InterContinental Hotels Group.
As of July 2019, Accor operates 210 hotels in 15 countries across the Middle East and North Africa with a total of 55,000 rooms and today, is the largest hotel operator in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco.
The group also has a promising pipeline with more than 100 properties and 50,000 rooms. In August it was announced that Rixos Hotels, in which Accor has a 50% stake, signed a deal to operate its largest all-inclusive resort in the world on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera. The 1,636-key Rixos Hurghada Makadi Bay will debut on the Red Sea Riviera in 2020.
Willis said: “Since I joined the company, our growth strategy for this specific region has primarily focused on cementing our presence in the markets where we operate, identifying opportunities for our rapidly-expanding portfolio of brands. We believe there is particularly strong growth potential for residences, extended-stay and lifestyle brands, as well as all-inclusive luxury resorts, and our partnerships with companies including sbe and Rixos reflect this.
“We already have a strong network in the Middle East and North Africa, but there is room for a more diverse range of brands in these markets, which are entering a new phase of maturity,” he added.
Since the time Willis joined Accor, Accor’s properties in Egypt have reported double-digit growth.
Willis is responsible for a portfolio of more than 400 hotels in operation and development across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, with 270 properties equating to 61,000-plus rooms across 36 countries currently operational.
Assembling a brand new team to carry out his vision as CEO, Willis leads the MEA management committee comprising senior leaders in operations, sales, marketing, communications, talent & culture (HR), revenue management, design and technical services, development, finance, security and business intelligence, procurement and legal.