Whatever type of hotel you want, wherever you want it and for whatever reason, Chris Roe can be of service. Based in London, he feeds business into Accor’s 4,000 properties in 92 countries. They comprise a multitude of brands, from Sofitel Legend (above and beyond 5-star) and modern top-of-the-range Pullmans to Ibis budget hotels; from the large middle-market properties of Novotel and Mercure to the boutique MGallery hideaways that offer a unique personality in very special locations such as Windsor or Bath or Paris.
Chris works with the Accor job title of V-P Sales, Distribution and Loyalty, so my first question was ‘What does that actually mean?’
‘Sales is self-evident’, he answered. ‘The UK is my market but I feed business of all kinds into Accor group hotels all round the world.
‘Loyalty relates to our rewards for repeat customers in terms of the points they collect and special benefits they enjoy. ‘Distribution implies that I keep an eye on the spread of our sales, our forms of promotions and advertising of different products and in the different media.’
Accor as a legal entity is listed on the French Stock Exchange.
‘We are very much a global enterprise’, Chris emphasises. ‘I would say that Accor properties are equally distributed in four main geographical regions: France, other European countries, Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.’
It is evident, therefore, that with close connections with so many varied venues, Accor is able to identify one to fit very closely to meet the requirements of almost any type and size of event.
‘I no longer get surprised’, says Chris, ‘at the variety of enquiries we handle. I remember when I first started in this sector, in a single day we were able to help people who were organising a boxing match in Marseilles, we offered someone else a choice of venues in Spain, the UK and Germany for 500 guys to have a get-together close to an airport; and we located a beach location in the Asia-Pacific region for a conference with a gala dinner.’
MICE business is of great importance to Accor. Chris explains: ‘We have a network of specialist MICE executives in our offices strategically located around the world and so we can rapidly identify the right kind of venue with availability at the right price.
‘We can offer very modern, well-equipped facilities even at a £23 to £30 Day Delegate Rate. Space by Ibis is a service we introduced in December that provides simple, well laid-out meeting rooms giving everything required for a meeting or event with no costly frills.’
I took the opportunity to ask Chris if the MICE business was being affected by the recent suicide-bombing atrocities in various parts of the world.
‘We haven’t seen a slow-down in business or enquiries’, he replied. ‘The Brits are known to be resilient and, worldwide, people are just getting on with their business plans.’