Accor eyes 30,000 rooms in Middle East by 2020

French operator already has 25,000 rooms open or under development

Accor group chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin
Accor group chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin

Accor Hotelservices Middle East is targeting 30,000 rooms in the Middle East by 2020, its chairman and CEO has revealed on a visit to the region.

The company is holding its Annual Development Meeting in Dubai for the first time this year, and the event comes at a time when it has just achieved its previous target of 100 hotels open or in the pipeline.

With 16,000 rooms already open, the new target represents an almost doubling of Accor’s portfolio and group chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin detailed the expansion plans.

“Our presence in the Middle East, which stretches back 35 years, has expanded significantly in response to the dynamic growth taking place in the region and reaching 100 hotels is a significant achievement,” he said.

“Our commitment to double in size by 2020 is a bold statement of our confidence in the future of the region, the support of our partners who work closely with our experienced and localized teams here in our three offices in Dubai, Jeddah and Cairo, and the strength of our portfolio of brands that continue to deliver operational excellence and compelling returns.”

He demonstrated the growth potential in the region by pointing out that, while there are on average only two rooms per 1000 inhabitants in the Middle East, there are 10 and above in more mature markets.

“Across all our segments, from economy to luxury, we are seeing rising demand for the development of more hotels, which is why we introduced three new brands in the region during 2014 – Adagio serviced apartments, Majlis Grand Mercure and ibis Styles.

“Looking ahead, we expect growth to be driven by improving infrastructure, especially in the GCC, and the delivery of key events and government policies including Dubai’s Vision 2020, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s target to attract 20 million visitors to its holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.”

Accor also used the event to announce the regional launch of the company’s ‘Leading Digital Hospitality’ plan, which will see the development of more robust information systems, distribution infrastructure and data gathering capabilities that will create a seamless journey for customers, a more transparent relationship with partners and a more digitally empowered Accor team.

It will also see the company build on the launch of Accor’s Arabic language website, with improved mobile applications, an extension of the tailored deal search engine and a further expansion of Accor’s loyalty program.

Furthermore, Accor’s ‘Welcome Project’, which allows guests to check-in online, is to be deployed across the Middle East, having been piloted at the Novotel Al Barsha and ibis Al Barsha since July.

“Digital technology is disrupting all industries, but especially the hospitality sector,” said Badrinath. “To meet this challenge we are launching globally a transformational strategy to enhance the digital experience of all our stakeholders.

“Digital technology is massively important in the Middle East, where social media is a growing part of daily life and smartphone penetration levels are the highest in the world.

“In response, not only are we improving our online booking services, we will also increasingly welcome guests through their smartphone or tablet. In everything we do, we are creating a richer digital-enabled Accor experience.”

Accor reached the 100 hotel (66 in operation; 34 under development) milestone in the Middle East last month and marked it with its ‘100 Unsung Heroes’ initiative, giving cash prizes and charity donations to recognise 100 regional employees who contributed significantly to the company’s success.

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