Q&A: Jean-Jacques Morin discusses Accor’s premium, midscale, economy goals

In January 2023 Jean-Jacques Morin was appointed CEO of Accor’s Premium, Midscale & Economy division, following the company’s restructuring that also saw the creation of a new luxury and lifestyle division.

Hospitality Investor caught up with Morin to discuss the impact of the new structure on the group and on its relations with hotel owners in particular, and where he see growth opportunities.

Hospitality Investor: What are your expectations for Accor’s performance in 2023?

Jean-Jacques Morin: 2023 is going to be a great year for Accor. In 2022, we were able to exceed our financial and non-financial targets, achieving a RevPar that was higher than pre-Covid levels, even as China remained closed for much of the year and the MICE market hadn’t fully returned to normal. Today, we are seeing a strong recovery in all regions and China is continuing to show encouraging signs. Already conferences are restarting, and while there is an element of business travel that will probably never return, exciting trends have emerged to offset this change. In particular we have seen more demand for our dedicated spaces (restaurants, bars, co-working, spas…) coming from heightened local and bleisure travel, as well as remote working in our hotels.

Of course, we remain vigilant given the sensitive geopolitical and economic environment, but we are confident in our vision, in our teams and in the choices we have made, which are now bearing fruit. We are going to pursue our growth and maintain our leading positions while continuing to redefine our industry. Our new structure with two dedicated divisions, will be a powerful factor in this, allowing us to give even greater satisfaction and value to our owners and customers.

Hospitality Investor: You joined Accor in 2015 as chief financial officer: how has the company changed over that time, and what will you remember as the highlights of your tenure?

Jean-Jacques Morin: I’ve spent the past few years being a business partner. My role as CFO was to facilitate the change. Saying “Yes” was a strong choice to make, as the strategy our chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin identified was completely transformative. Today, when I look back, I know those decisions were the right ones.

Sébastien’s vision has revealed the group’s value with many clear-cut examples of positive change. 10 years ago, Accor had only 12 hotel brands and we now have more than 40. The group’s geographic footprint is now much larger with international operations accounting for 45% of our business and Accor being the number one hotel group everywhere, apart from in China and the United States.

Perhaps most excitingly Accor has created a continuingly innovating and unique hospitality approach. We offer the most diversified ecosystem of hospitality brands, services and experiences through our booking platform and loyalty program, ALL – Accor Live Limitless. This has seen Accor lead the way in experience-driven hospitality services and has also allowed us to strengthen our position in the luxury and lifestyle market. In short, we are now much stronger across the board.

Hospitality Investor: You are taking the helm of the division that includes economy, premium and midscale brands: what will be your guiding principles and objectives for these segments?

Jean-Jacques Morin: We decided to create two divisions since the requirements for luxury and lifestyle, both from owners and guests, are different from the ones for the premium, midscale and economy. For example, the premium, midscale and economy division is structured geographically, by markets, whereas the luxury and lifestyle division is structured by brands. That is because it involves rolling out at scale and making the model better equipped and more processed to ensure hotels and guests are always provided the highest level of service in the most efficient way possible. Luxury and lifestyle, on the contrary, is going to focus on a much more personalised approach to bring out the unique identity and offering that each brand provides. Lastly, we are going to focus on our brands and further develop their attractiveness, strength and sustainability, the latter being an area of particular pride for us. This new structure will allow the group to ramp up its growth, better respond to market developments, offer a higher quality of service, and successfully meet the wants and needs of all our guests while also offering greater clarity and better performances for our partners.

Hospitality Investor: Does the new structure allow for a different way of managing relations with owners and other stakeholders?

Jean-Jacques Morin: Of course, and that’s what it’s designed for. Previously, a regional director dedicated equal amounts of time to all these owners and stakeholders even though the investments were not of the same magnitude. Today, we are going to be able to spend more time with those who need it and facilitate a far more seamless working interaction with our hotels, thanks to systems and processes that are much better targeted. Everyone will be able to benefit from these changes and that’s the whole point. Our CEO in Europe will have more time to spend with our main partners and hotel owners such as AccorInvest or AFA for example and the CEOs for our luxury brands will have dedicated time with their partners.

Hospitality Investor: What regions do you see as having the biggest potential for growth? 

Jean-Jacques Morin: Today, the premium, midscale and economy division is spread across four regions: Europe and North Africa, Greater China, the Americas, and Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Asia-Pacific , which is undoubtedly the region with the highest potential. Great projects in South-East Asia and Japan as well as in the Middle East – in Dubai and Saudi Arabia – deserve to be highlighted. We have for example announced recently the opening of Pullman Singapore Orchard, marking the brand’s debut in this key city or the expansion of our portfolio in Senegal with Kasada under the Mövenpick brand. Greater China is also one of our strongest regions looking to continued growth following the easing of restrictions. In April 2022 we signed an unprecedented long-term partnership agreement with Funyard Hotels and Resorts – Country Garden’s core enterprise to open at least 1 300 JO&JOE hotels and in July 2022, we joined forces with Sunmei Digital Intelligence Group to open more than 400 Mövenpick.

In Europe, we look to maintain our leading position and we also see potential on conversions. We recently launched our new collection brand “Handwritten” as independent hotels are increasingly seeking the strength of a powerful Group to increase their revenue and optimize cost control. The Handwritten Collection portfolio is expected to reach more than 250 hotels by 2030 and Le Saint Gervais Hotel & Spa in France or Le Splendid Hotel Lac d'Annecy are already opened to name just a few.

Hospitality Investor: What are your looking forward to with regards to your participation in the International Hospitality Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin in May? 

Jean-Jacques Morin: IHIF is a significant moment for our industry and it’s wonderful to be able to get together with our peers and partners to talk about best practices, particularly in relation to sustainability challenges. It’s also a chance to visualise the hospitality of tomorrow, to be more in sync with our local communities, showcasing hotels as living spaces with ample opportunities for great experiences outside of stays. It also offers an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our group’s strengths. We have 40+ brands each with unique stories, backed up by our distribution network and ALL loyalty program which enable a seamless customer experience.

Accor will be present at the International Hospitality Investment Forum in Berlin on 15-17 May, where the group’s chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin will give a keynote interview on the main stage on Tuesday 16th May.

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