Marriott CEO comments on Accor's digital strategy
Sorenson says acquisition of tech companies is something Marriott “wouldn't rule out”
In the wake of Accor’s latest acquisition of e-commerce solution company Fastbooking.com, Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International told Hotelier Middle East: “It will be interesting to see.”
On the potential for Marriott to acquire technology companies to add value to its digital offering, Sorenson commented: “I certainly wouldn’t rule it out but I think the primary thing will be investing in our existing platforms; Marriott.com and Marriott Rewards. Technology is instrumental to that, so that would be an obvious area of investment.
“It may be that some existing third-party players could be helpful to bring these things forward but I don’t think acquiring a small OTA to keep up with third party reservation business is a likely option for us. I don’t know how big a force that will be.”
Accor’s acquisition of Fastbooking.com follows hot on the heels of its purchase of Wipolo, a free online and mobile service for organising travel itineraries.
The purchases are part of a digital plan unveiled at the end of last year, which will see the group invest US $280 million over a five-year period to enhance its digital offering -- and Accor hasn't ruled out further acquisitions as part of this.
“Fastbooking gives you the opportunity to create an all-in-one site, with SEO, search engine acquisition, and all the extra services,” David Henry, vice president sales, marketing & distribution, Accor Middle East told Hotelier Middle East.
“It’s not just the possibility to book online but all the services around that and that’s something that’s very exciting. Fastbooking is a pure player and it holds fantastic opportunities for us.
“I see the implications this can have in the coming months and it really gives strength and drive to a strategic project for Accor. Here at a regional level I’m very excited about it and it will bring a lot of novelty that hopefully we’ll be discussing in the coming months. Whether or not there are other opportunities yet, I don’t know.”
Accor is also undergoing a transformation of its app offering. While the company previously had 29 apps, they've been merging them since February so that by October there will be just one Accor app.
“This is something like what the pure players are doing,” said Henry. “All of the customers that have been downloading the previous apps will be informed that the apps will be stopped and we are going to have a big app that will be a very strong Accor Hotels.com app which will give Accor customers added value.”
Accor’s digital strategy is based on eight programmes, four of which are customer-focused, with the aim to improve customer knowledge about the various brands and properties, as well as add to the services provided.
Fastbooking.com supports 4,000 hotels worldwide with website development, distribution channel management solutions, digital marketing campaign management, revenue management optimisation tools and competitive intelligence. Its two main markets are Europe and Asia.