, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

I. Accord: “The mobile is becoming key”

Interview with Romain Roulleau, e-commerce Director of Accor

Today more than 2 billion people in the world own a smartphone and 47% of travel searches are done from a mobile phone. (Sources : PhocusWright 2014 et Google 2014), which makes it the most utilized tool by clients to find, prepare for, and organize a trip. The successful digital experience in a hotel, we know, makes the client’s loyalty increase. Romain Roulleau, the e-commerce director of Accor, explains to i-tourism and the strategic challenges of this device, that has become primary for the group.

Rédigé par Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 3 Septembre 2014

Romain Roulleau, e-commerce director of Accor
Romain Roulleau, e-commerce director of Accor
Guadeloupe Inside
i-tourisme: How important is the mobile?

Romain Roulleau: “Today, the mobile is very important to our clients’ experience, and particularly in the hotel sector.

The mobile is the only device that the client will carry throughout his or her trip, it is not a substitute tool. The mobile is key.

Hence, Mobile services have to be developed more and more.”

i-tourisme: Where are you now with your mobile strategy?

RR: “The first application was created in 2009. Today, we have a total of 27 that have been downloaded over 1 million times.

We are cutting-edge because we developed an application for each of our brands and for all smartphones. We also have a multi-brand application

This is a necessity when we look at the rapid growth of reservation rates on mobiles or tablets.

The growth was constant in 2014, the sales double every year. This is substantial.”

“Payment is the sticking point”

i-tourism: Concerning reservations, how do you handle exchange rates on mobile?

RR: “The mobile is widely used but less than computers when is comes to reservations.

Its utility will evolve. Concerning the Internet, 15 years ago, people said at the time that a PC would not be profitable.

A person is 5 times faster on their mobile. It may be by just checking it frequently at first.

The sticking point today concerns payments. If a mobile user is searching on his smartphone with one hand; he has to take out his bank card with the other, it’s complicated.

Especially if we are on the go. The 3D secure logic is not user friendly.

A substantial development, are payment solutions such as electronic wallets like Google Wallet. We are studying other bank card systems where all our private information can be securely entered.

But this will have a considerable effect on payments leading to an increase of reservations done on the mobile.”

“The client’s experience is key to us”

i-tourism: Your strategy is more centered on the mobile now?

RR: “The reservation aspect represented the heart of our digital strategy. We are in the middle of the reengineering phase of our digital plan, with 5 year goals.

The arrival of our new General Deputy Director, a pro in digital innovation, fostered this dynamic impulse (ndlr: Vivek Badrinath joined the Accor group in January 2014. He is in charge of marketing, digital, distribution and information systems.)

The mobile is a strategical medium that follows the client from beginning to end. An important element because it is innovative.

Novotel’s e-conciergerie service was a first of this kind of creation (see box below). The goal is to include the entire spectrum of services.

The client’s experience is key to us, and the mobile is the only tool that can respond to that from beginning to end.”

i-tourisme: Is this orientation a means to face OTAs?

RR: “There is no conflict with the OTAs, but the opportunity to create ties with partners, with satisfactory conditions and depending on our needs.

In fine, the hotel is the only place where we can talk to the client and create a privileged relation with him or her. The hotelier has that power.

The service in the hotel goes far beyond e-conciergerie, it is a larger service.

Our direct networks allow clients to have additional services, such has a digitalized welcoming service that helps to prepare online check-ins or express check outs.

It is also the best way to enjoy all of the advantages of the Loyalty service of the Accorhotels Club which makes a real difference and preference for our brands.”

Digital innovation at the heart of the Novotel brand

I. Accor: “The mobile is becoming key”
I. Accor: “The mobile is becoming key”
New technologies change the concept of a hotel stay, the trip is “digitalized” and clients look for constant interaction with their environment.

The Accor brand was able to innovate. In 2008, Novotel launched the Novotel Web Corner on Mac. A year later, the brand deployed the XBOX 360 before surprising everyone, in 2011, with the Kinect Experience.

Launched in June 2013, the Virtual Concierge allows clients to navigate and discover information linked to the brand and hotel.

First accessible on a screen set up in the lobby, it was changed into a mobile application downloadable on Android and Apple. It allows clients to benefit, in all mobility, from information offered by this online conciergerie service, but also to plan their trip.

"It is a Novotel exclusivity, a true digital added value. The hotelier has his hand on the content he wishes to highlight. The recommendations put forth by the hotelier represent more than 40% of our clients’ views.

It is a type of acknowledgement of the hotelier’s know how made available thanks to a digital tool
”, affirms David Esseryck, technology director of Accor consumers.

Already deployed in 250 hotels and more than 350 hotels by the end of 2014, this multilingual solution managed by Monconcierge, delivers recommendations on points of interest located in proximity to the establishments (restaurants, museums etc.) as well as practical information such as weather and flight schedules.

Other innovating services are also available such a sending virtual postcards. “More than one million cards were sent since the launch of Novotel Virtual Concierge,” observes David Esseryck.

"The job of our hotelier is about reception and hospitality. The hotelier’s knowledge of the region and its points of interest is essential to our clients.

The virtual conciergerie is a new type of information sharing, a new mode of communication. Especially since at Novotel, we have no concierge to start with.

Attentive to our clients through today’s technological tools.”

New: The multimedia PLAY table

The brand keeps on innovating. It launched last June the multimedia PLAY table developed in partnership with Microsoft, Humelab and After-Mouse.

Containing the most popular games such as Angry Birds, one can play within clients or with the family.

Available in 12 pilot lobbys in the world (Milano, Brussels, London, Paris, Sidney, Casablanca, Dubai, Rio…) it offers various distractions and has the objective of being deployed at a fast rate on the entire Novotel network by 2015.

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