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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
In today’s global world, it’s not enough to simply transplant a brand concept in a new country and call it expansion. Brands need to find the balance between maintaining their core principles and adopting to local expectations that resonate with their targeted customers.
Grégoire Champetier is in charge of marketing for Accor, one of the world’s largest hotel groups with properties in 92 countries.
He is responsible for keeping track of mobile, social, personalized, real-time marketing trends and implementing strategies for more than a dozen brands.
Before joining Accor in 2011, Champetier worked in marketing roles at McDonald’s for ten years and was part of the team responsible for making France the second-most profitable market for the fast food chain.
It’s rise in popularity is due in large part to subtle changes that make the brand appeal to a culture known for its sophisticated cuisine. The menu, service, and atmosphere inside and outside of more than 1,200 restaurants have been adopted to French taste.
Champetier describes the company’s goal as maintaining the “global consistency of the McDonald’s concept” while adopting to “local expectations of the European market in terms of product, design, communications, expectations nature of service.”
Today, Champetier says much of what he achieved at McDonald’s also applies to Accor.
One example is the creation of a regional Chinese brand, the Grand Mercure Mei Jue, which attempts to combine Chinese tradition with French elegance specifically for Chinese travelers.
Related: Skift recognized Gregoire Champetier’s as one of the top 50 travel marketers across the globe in 2013.
Guests are greeted by staff wearing traditional Chinese Qipao dresses and welcomed with macarons in their room.
“You have to keep the international powerful image of the brand, but you have to twist it a little bit to make it more relevant,” Champetier explains in the video interview, below.
Interestingly, Champetier isn’t the only global hotel marketing guru that cut his teeth at McDonald’s.
Larry Light, chief brands officer at InterContinental Hotels Group, previously served three years as global chief marketing officer at McDonald’s.
We spoke to Champetier last week at Accor’s headquarters in Paris.
Below is an excerpt of our interview during which he discusses McDonald’s success in France and how it applies to hotel marketing today.