InterContinental Hotels Group PLC Chief Financial Officer, Tom Singer, reviews the company’s half year results for 2013
Just the kind of news I like to see hitting my inbox, after all, you know how much I hate paying for Wi-Fi in hotels. Accor, the name behind brands such as Ibis, Mercure and Novotel, have announced that they are to offer free Wi-Fi across 194 properties in the UK.
Accor will be officially rolling out free Wi-Fi in all Ibis budget, Ibis, Ibis Styles, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman and MGallery hotels in the UK, most importantly incorporating all bedrooms and public areas. When I saw the announcement I did wonder if it would include bedrooms (as so many chains have led with similar PR exercises, but only provided coverage in reception) so this is good to see.
The service will provide visitors at Accor hotels, including 59 Ibis hotels, 76 Mercure hotels and 31 Novotel branded hotels, with access to free, high quality Wi-Fi throughout their stay, with many hotels offering the fibre optic Wi-Fi to guarantee the best possible service. Guests will be able to access free Wi-Fi in bedrooms, meeting rooms and all public areas of the hotel.
Accor go on to say that this initiative is in-line with their wider commitment to emphasising guest satisfaction for both business and leisure customers and follows industry research from the BDRC highlighting the significance of free Wi-Fi for hotel guests (they could have just asked me). Recent figures revealed that free Wi-Fi throughout hotels is the most important factor for business travellers when choosing where to stay. Demand for high quality, free Wi-Fi has been boosted in recent years by the increased use of connected devices such as tablets.
Thomas Dubaere, Managing Director of Accor UK & Ireland explains, “Free Wi-Fi has become the norm at many coffee houses or bars but in the past with hotel groups it can vary from property to property, and differ between the public areas to bedrooms. We recognise that guests expect to have free Wi-Fi wherever they are in the hotel and for it to be a quick, high quality connection.
This is why we invested across all our brands in the UK in super, fibre-optic Wi-Fi so that guests can use smartphones, tablets, laptops – whatever technology device – at ease, anywhere in the hotel and for no charge.”
Now the small print (but in line with what you’d expect) – the hotels will offer free Wi-Fi to 512k, which allows guest to browse the Internet and check emails at an efficient speed. Premium high speed Wi-Fi is available to buy in many properties using fibre optic Internet, ideal for data streaming.
Will the other global chains now follow suit?
HEDNA (the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) announced its 2013 Board of Directors at their Winter Conference held December 3-5, 2012, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. HEDNA are an important association to our industry, especially to those of us involved directly in distribution and is made up of representatives from all over the hotel world, from technology companies and GDS; distribution companies and hotel chains. So here are some names to watch. There are three newly elected members of the board:
- Craig Barnby, Director, Hospitality Solutions Architect, Orbitz Worldwide
- Mike Carlo, Global Market Leader for Travel, GlobalCollect
- John Owens, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Pegasus Solutions
Additional Members at Large for 2013 are:
- Tom Bruno, Director, eDistribution Development and Operations, Marriott International
- David Cabreza, Director, International Distribution Services, Hilton Worldwide
- Doug Carr, Executive Director Distribution, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International
- Cynthia Castillo, Head of Hotel Program & Customer Relationship Travel Services Business Group, Amadeus IT Group S.A.
- Kevin Furlong, Director of Data Services, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
- Linda Kent, SVP, Electronic Distribution, Wyndham Hotel Group
- Edward Perry, Global Senior Director of Social Media, OTA Partnerships and Innovation Projects, Worldhotels
- David Revelle, Director of Business Development, DerbySoft
- Dee Thomas, Vice President – Product Management, Supplier Solutions, Lanyon
- Rajesh Vohra, Sales and Marketing Director, Sarova Hotels
Retiring from the board are: Louise Meyer, Vice President, Hotels, VFM Leonardo; Sarah Fowler, formerly Strategic Account Director, Pegasus Solutions; and Melanie Ryan Owens, Senior Vice President, Sales, Bankrate, Inc. and formerly with Orbitz Worldwide, who leaves the association after eight years on the board, the past four as President.
HEDNA also announced the Executive Committee for 2013: Rajesh Vohra takes the reins as President of HEDNA’s Board of Directors; Doug Carr was elected Vice President; Edward Perry retains his position as Secretary; and Tom Bruno retains his role as Treasurer.
HEDNA saw a record number of new members in 2012, in addition to enjoying record attendance at the Winter Meeting in Las Vegas. “The strong support of our members has allowed HEDNA to increase its educational offerings, expand outreach, deliver additional networking opportunities, and further strengthen the organization’s strategic vision to be the leading global forum to advance hospitality distribution,” Owens said in her opening remarks.
As she announced the new board and passed the torch to Vohra at the close of the conference, Owens expressed sincere thanks to the HEDNA membership, Board of Directors and the association’s world class staff. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve as President of HEDNA these past four years,” she said. “I am truly thankful for your support and your faith in me to lead this inspiring association.”
As he begins his two-year term as President, Vohra pointed to his previous role as a board member as sound training for the job ahead. “After a very enjoyable and fruitful two years on the HEDNA Board I am delighted and excited to have been elected to lead such an august group of industry leaders. Melanie has been a wonderful President and will be a truly hard act to follow. The future for HEDNA is very bright, and I look forward to helping shape that future over the next 2 years.”
Accor pinpoint the reason for these changes as a hotel market that is facing major challenges today with greater segmentation and increasingly specific customer expectations which call for strongly positioned brands – with Accor defining these organisational changes as an opportunity to “reinvent the business model of its brands”.
This new organisation structure concerns Accor’s activities in 15 countries in Western and Central Europe across eight brands: Pullman, MGallery, Mercure, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Ibis, Ibis Styles and Ibis Budget, representing some 210,000 rooms and nearly 2,000 hotels. At the head of each brand or group of brands is a Chief Operating Officer Europe, assisted by a support team reporting to him, dedicated to the brand and comprising expertise in key areas such as marketing, human resources, management control and technical standards. The geographical scope of this organisation structure is divided into four main regions: Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Central Europe and France, with a Brand SVP for each region.
“This organisation structure will enable us to develop first-rate specialists in each market segment and rely on teams that are entirely focused on their brands and have perfect knowledge of both their customers and their competitors”, explains Yann Caillère, President and Chief Operating Officer. “It is also essential to strengthen our relations with our partners and at the same time it will offer new development opportunities to our employees.”
Accor hope that the new organisation structure will deepen relationships exchanges between the nearly 400 franchised owners operating hotels in this region allowing them to be able to have dialogue with the dedicated teams, giving them easier access to the brand manager, and there will be greater opportunities for exchange of best practices between European franchisees.
In the framework of this new brand-based organisation of operations in Europe, the following appointments have been made:
- Christophe Alaux, Chief Operating Officer, Mercure & MGallery Europe
Christophe Alaux is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris and holds an advanced degree in Management. He began his career in 1990 at PSA Peugeot Citroën as labour relations manager in a production center. From 1994 to 1999, he carried out various missions for Accenture in the field of organization and performance improvement. He then joined Promodès, where he served as Vice President Organization and Human Resources for Continent before joining Carrefour France’s Executive Committee as Vice President Organization, Systems and Supply Chain. After a period as an operating executive at a Carrefour hypermarket, Christophe Alaux was appointed Regional Operating Officer of Carrefour in Shanghai and Zhejiang province in 2005. In 2007, he became Chief Operating Officer and member of the Executive Committee of Carrefour Taiwan. In 2008, Christophe Alaux joined Accor as Chief Operating Officer, Hotels France. He will keep this responsibility within the new organization.
- Jean-Paul Philippon, Chief Operating Officer, Novotel & Suite Novotel Europe
Jean-Paul Philippon is a graduate of the Clermont Ferrand Hotel School and has a technical diploma in hotel management from the Tarbes Chamber of Commerce. He joined Accor in 1979 as General Manager Novotel Marseille Est before becoming Deputy Director Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Marseille region in 1983. He subsequently served as Regional Director Sofitel and later as Chief Operating Officer Sofitel Europe between 1987 and 1997. In 1998 he was appointed Regional Director, Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Northern Latin America and in 2002 became Managing Director of Ibis France. He has served as Chief Operating Officer, Hotels Southern Europe since 2007.
- Christophe Vanswieten, Chief Operating Officer, Pullman Europe
Christophe Vanswieten is a graduate of the COOVI Hotel Management School in Brussels. He began his career in the Novotel Brussels Airport as F&B manager. He then managed various Novotel hotels in Belgium before being appointed Chief Operating Officer Accor Belgium. He became Chief Operating Officer BeNeLux in 2006. In July 2009, he became Chief Operating Officer, Accor Hotels Benelux, Switzerland and Scandinavia and Director of the All Seasons brand. In 2012, he was Chief Operating Officer BeNelux, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ireland.
- Peter Verhoeven, Chief Operating Officer, Ibis brands Europe
Peter Verhoeven holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelor’s Degree from the Hotelschool The Hague. He began his career in operations with Golden Tulip International in Ghana and Gran Dorado in the Netherlands. After 10 years with Disneyland Paris in senior leadership roles in Operations, Marketing and Sales, he joined Avis in the United Kingdom as Director of Sales for Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia. In 2007, Peter Verhoeven joined Accor as Managing Director, The Netherlands. He has served as Chief Operating Officer for Accor in Germany since 2009.
Commissioned by People1st, in partnership with Caterer.com, this newly published infographic examines the key trends affecting the hospitality industry, utalising statistics from the Hospitality Employment Index. The UK’s descent into a double-dip recession in the first quarter of 2012 put a furrow on the brow of many business leaders across the hospitality industry. While most sectors were left reeling though, hoteliers were able to breathe a partial sigh of relief, according to the Hospitality Employment Index (HEI) report Q1 2012. But even though the HEI indicated that hotel job ads were up compared to the first quarter of 2011, there were strong indications that businesses need to invest in their future by finding ways of increasing employee retention.