Last February Accorhotels' CEO, Sébastien Bazin, announced the creation of the AccorLocal concept.
Now finally, in late November, the chain has formally launched AccorLocal to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Indeed, it was in November 1967 that Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pélisson opened the first Novotel hotel in the northern French city of Lille. The Paris-based company has ended its AccorLocal pilot project and has officially launched a mobile app that it hopes people will use in their daily lives.
AccorLocal seeks to encourage guests at AccorHotel properties, as well as local residents, to make use of “the services of local artisans and companies”.
Conversely, the initiative also promotes the hotel’s amenities to local residents.
Thus local residents can access a range of additional hospitality services, such as spas, pools, fitness centres, co-working spaces or takeaway breakfasts, as well as a number of useful little services, such as: printing services, storage facilities; dry cleaning; and guarded parking lots and garages.
Meanwhile, external service providers are not limited to small businesses in the immediate vicinity of the hotel property, but include partnerships with larger enterprises, such as Pampa and Bergamotte, which are flower distribution platforms that can deliver bouquets to the hotel’s reception.
There is also Oly Be which can offer yoga, pilates and relaxation classes in rooms let by the hotels. Food providers include the Paris bakery, Poilâne, a purveyor of high quality bread and Nespresso capsules which can be delivered to pick-up and deposit points around the clock.
Guests can also rent cars by the hour at any time of day through AccorLocal's collaboration with Hertz.
The AccorLocal app already has about 3'000 active users and now offers hundreds of services in more than 250 hotels located in 42 cities across France. The service will be rolled out in 2018 and 2019 in major cities and capitals worldwide.
No charge for users or service providers
According to Scott Gordon, AccorLocal's CEO, “It’s totally free and totally optional for everyone participating; it’s an open platform. We have some partnerships and whenever a hotel is interested they can pick a handful to try and then add their own services – pool, F&B, whatever they want to propose.
"There is no cost to the merchants; we ask only that there is price parity between what they charge locally and what they charge us. The customer pays direct through the app. With the hotel services we take 10% for the platform and 90% goes to the hotel.”
The hotels can also choose to act as a sort of “Amazon Locker” location where they can store things for guests to pick up, depending on how much storage space they have available. (Amazon Lockers are secure, self-service kiosks where customers can pick up Amazon.com packages at a time and place that is convenient for them.)
Hotel owners may adopt the programme and decide for themselves what services they wish to offer, and with which local merchants they wish to work.
“The hotels get to pick the local merchants and key partnerships they want to have in the hotel and there’s no investment they have to make to be a part of AccorLocal, but there’s a great potential return,” maintains Gordon.
Will be linked to Accor's loyalty scheme
The app is not yet linked to the group’s 32 million-member loyalty programme, but Gordon predicts that, “It’s going to be a big part, it’s going to be a game changer; members will be able to earn and burn on their daily life habits. Today the problem we have is that we only see our customers a couple of times a year. Our ambition is to be recognised as your daily life companion, not just your travel companion.”
The application has been on trial since March and Gordon remarks that yoga classes – which help to fill under-utilised meeting space in hotels – laundry services and breakfast pick-up have been particularly popular, adding that:
“A lot of very local things happened really well. We have a hotel in central Paris which is near to a motorbike parking [lot]; we offered a helmet drop-off and a breakfast pick up. You can then get your helmet at the end of the day. We’ve been focusing for the past 50 years on the travellers of the world and had forgotten about the local community, which is five or six times the size. After all, who else is open 24/7 other than the police, hospitals and hotels?”
Accor isn't alone
AccorHotels isn’t the only hotel company considering ways to embed its loyalty programme into the daily lives of its members.
In late November, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) announced that it would allow its members to earn points for booking restaurants on OpenTable (a subsidiary of Priceline.com discussed in the previous blog post: Airbnb out to disrupt OpenTable) and ordering takeout meals via Grubhub, a US-based online and mobile food ordering company which allows diners to order from 75’000 takeout restaurants in over 1'300 US cities and London.