GENTILLY, France—It has been a little more than two years since Accor created its lifestyle division.
With the opening of the flagship of its new Jo&Joe brand this month, this division now spans the entire segmentation curve, according to Cédric Gobilliard, Accor’s head and SVP of lifestyle.
“The division came about because we at Accor realized what we were offering was not what our customers were looking for,” Gobilliard said. “And then with the emergence of Airbnb, we knew we had to redefine a new type of hotel experience.”
Its lifestyle portfolio includes Jo&Joe, Mama Shelter, Rafes, Tribe, 25hours Hotels, Thalassa Sea & Spa and SBE, along with SBE brands Delano, Hyde, House of Originals, Mondrian and SLS Hotels.
Gobilliard pointed out the portfolio’s brands are not all luxury but all share the DNA conceived by the Mama Shelter brand created by the famed Trigano family, which also developed resort brand Club Méditerranée, now simply called Club Med.
Gobilliard, who formerly headed up the Mercure brand in France, said Accor created its lifestyle division to attract a new type of customer. “This is not a shift in our clientele, but a different one,” he said. “The general increase in the numbers of travelers all looking for experiences meant we needed a new cake. Yes, our Ibis, our Novotel brands are still so important. Our protability comes from these guys.
” Gobilliard added the division also contains the standalone Restaurants by Accor brand, which contains some 2,500 restaurants.
Sébastien Bazin, president and CEO of Accor, said the development of brands across its lifestyle division is indicative of how the French company has changed in recent years.
He added he envisions a Jo&Joe pipeline of up to 80 hotels.
“Accor was a big vessel, a tanker, super-solid,” Bazin said. “It is hard for it to turn 10 degrees to the north or the south, but Jo&Joe is a small boat with the wind behind it. It is one of our sailboats. We have more.”
But that does not mean development can continue completely unmonitored.
“My job is to protect these brands. By separating them from the classic departments, even though they will be part of (loyalty program) All, we will protect the equity of owners,” Gobilliard said. “Optimizing numbers could dilute the DNA. (Accor’s) other brands do not copy (the lifestyle brands) as we have our distinct clientele. Respect who you are.”
Gobilliard said these eateries, along with entertainment offerings, provide approximately 50% of the lifestyle division’s revenue.
A key concept of these brands and hotels will be that they will also have a local approach to them, Gobilliard said.
“If it is trendy for locals, then guests will come,” he said. “We’re investing in entertainment. New experiences only work when they are authentic.”
On the move
Of the brands in the division, Mama Shelter will soon be on a growth spurt, Gobilliard said, with assets coming to London, Lille (France) and Santiago.
“(Mama Shelter) has a small team and is very selective,” he said.
Gobilliard said Jo&Joe should have 10 assets within the next three years. “We have said no to some offers. The essentials are for Jo&Joe (properties) to be in urban centers or by transportation hubs,” he said.
“For me volume equals value,” Gobilliard said of Jo&Joe. “I need people in my common spaces, and I needed spaces to be packed. It is a different approach.”
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