EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with Accor MD Christophe Landais
Accor Managing Director shares his vision for 2014
Accor managing director Christophe Landais talks recruitment plans, expansion in Saudi Arabia and efforts to target BRIC markets.
1. Which hotels do you expect to open in the Middle East in 2014 and how many rooms?
Accor Middle East will open 12 hotels in 2014 mainly in UAE and KSA with over 2900 rooms.
2. What is your hero hotel opening in 2014 and why?
All our hotels are ‘Hero’ hotels but we could say that our main ‘hero’ news in 2014 is our Adagio brand which will mark its debut with the opening of the Adagio Al Bustan in Abu Dhabi. We also have new Adagio properties under construction in Dubai, Fujairah and Qatar.
3. To meet the needs of your upcoming pipeline, how many staff will you be looking to recruit in 2014?
Accor Middle East would look at recruiting over 2,000 employees across the region to cater for the several openings. We recently launched our Saudi Management Training programme in Jeddah. This programme is designed to nurture the careers of Saudi nationals in the field of hospitality with the aim of developing future leaders in Accor hotels.
4. What do you think are the main challenges hotel GMs will face in 2014?
One of the key challenges in 2014 will be recruitment.
5. What are the key travel trends you are seeing emerge?
Dubai is taking the lead as the most attractive destination in the Middle East (strongly supported by significant development in the aviation sector, which is key for a leisure destination) and with Dubai being the winning destination for the World Expo 2020, it will become more important.
To cater to emerging trends we place emphasis on a strong development of web distribution vs. the traditional channels. We recently launched our geo-localised Arabic website accorhotels.com in the region.
5. What are you doing to target new markets such as the BRIC market and Generation Y travellers?
Accor websites support 15 languages. In addition, Mercure.com will now be accessible in Russian language since December 2013. Young travellers are targeted with new key features such as mobile apps, social media, shareable content, etc. New marketing activations like contests on our Facebook page are now used to attract this generation who are keen to interact with brands via online content and technology.
6. With smartphones and tablets becoming key customer service tools, what mobile services are you providing for guests?
A key feature which was launched on 11 December 2013, is the welcome project on mobile which involves checking-in by mobile.