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AccorHotels has made it a habit this year to acquire and invest in companies and technology where consumer demand is shifting and its acquisition of concierge services provider John Paul this week is its latest move in this effort.
AccorHotels Group, which announced its intention to buy a majority stake in John Paul in August and valued the company at $150 million, this week said it’s acquiring 80 percent of the company but isn’t disclosing the total acquisition amount.
John Paul founder and CEO David Amsellem will retain a 20 percent stake in the company and continue as CEO. “This is an unrivaled opportunity to cement [John Paul’s] expertise and partnerships through the AccorHotels Group’s 4,000+ hotels and 3,000+ restaurants worldwide,” AccorHotels Group said in a statement.
Founded in 2007, John Paul is a 50,000-partner worldwide network that provides concierge and hotel employee loyalty services through proprietary customer relationship management software applications and management platforms with 360-degree personalization and profiling capabilities. It has more than 1,000 employees and also merged with U.S.-based LesConcierges in 2015.
Amsellem told Skift the types of requests it’s been seeing increasingly more of from its members have been travel related.
That was one of the chief reasons why John Paul kicked off talks with Accor, he said. “We have three key iniatives that we want to work on with Accor,” said Amsellem. “Our core expertise is in loyalty and we’ll be working on retention, upgrading the loyalty experience and helping Accor to work with online travel agencies more efficiently.”
Accor will have a much wider scope of travel services that it offers, Amsellem said, but John Paul can’t take all the credit for that given the other acquisitions and investments Accor has recently made. “The second thing is, AccorHotels of tomorrow will not only be a hospitality provider but it will be a hospitality solution provider,” said Amsellem. “You’ll be able to book your entire trip A to Z with Accor. Today Accor captures very well accommodations, but tomorrow it will also be able to capture activities and transportation, for example.”
John Paul’s third initiative involves targeting new audiences — namely by leveraging it’s concierge services to attract locals and those living around the hotels to use its digital concierge services. “Tomorrow, the AccorHotels assets will be meeting points and will be the concierge service desk for the local inhabitants living around the hotels,” Amsellem said.
Deepening the Concierge Experience
Amsellem said the real value proposition for concierge services is human and digital and that both work together. “What people usually say is that millennials are digital and older travelers are not digital,” he said. “It’s absolutely wrong. In the real world, we are all more or less digital and more or less human depending on the type of request we have.”
The John Paul acquisition is a logical step for Accor as AccorHotels Group CEO Sebastien Bazin recently told Skift, “Groups like ours, we’ve been investing more and more in loyalty and technology, in customer relationship management, and in data.”
The AccorHotels Group Twitter handle tweeted this quote from Bazin on Wednesday in response to the John Paul acquisition, hinting it will use John Paul to improve communication with guests during all phases of their trips besides when they’re on property:
With its own 20-plus brands and investments in boutique hotel brand 25hours and co-living brand Jo&Joe and its acquisitions of onefinestay, Oasis Collections and Fairmont, Raffles and Swisshotel, Accor needs a robust concierge platform that will be effective for all the various kinds of guest experiences that it has under its umbrella.
But given loyalty services are also a cornerstone of John Paul’s offerings, it’s likely Accor is also looking to the company to take its Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program to more competitive heights.