|Intra-Asian Phenomenon Will Force Rethink by Hotels.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 10th September 2013
The biggest mega-trend is the rise of the intra-Asian market and that will have a profound change on the way chains develop brands, design their hotels, distribute and market, and look after their customers.
And with 50% of its secured pipeline in Asia/Pacific, Accor is one global company that’s thinking about how to put Asia first in the way it thinks about some aspects of its business.
Michael Issenberg, chairman and COO of Accor Asia Pacific (pictured right), agrees it comes down to asking questions such as “should we still have Continental or American breakfast” to bigger issues such as what kind of brands and products are needed for a new kind of customer than the traditional guests chains are used to in this part of the world.
“The excitement of Asia is that it’s always changing and there are unique aspects of the market to consider – for example, mobile and tablet apps, more important here than anywhere else.
“What other services need to change? The whole bar element, Asians don’t go to bars as often as Westerners, private dining rooms are important, landscaping of pools has to change – people don’t lie in the sun as much here so we have to change the use of it.
“Hotels will also find it harder to compete with free standing restaurants – it’s already happening in China, it hasn’t hit India yet.”
Changes in workforce and products
Its workforce is also changing. Currently it employs 60,000 across Asia Pacific and with 300 hotels set to open over the next three years, it will need 30,000 new employees in the region.
“We need tools in the appropriate languages, we want diversity in our workforce, both gender and cultural. I told our general managers in China that as fast as you are growing, I need you to export people to our hotels because we need people to welcome Chinese guests.”
Its hotel products are being adapted to different Asian tastes. The Grand Mercure brand, for example, is a product customised for China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
It is looking to bring Sebel, the brand it acquired in Australia, to the region, a move that will see it entering the apartment market to cater to changing tastes and preferences for accommodation.