Independent hotels can expand their customer base and adapt to changing market conditions by joining a larger hotel group with a global distribution and supply network. Accor’s diverse portfolio offers a spectrum of conversion-friendly brands to address the individual needs of owners.
This sponsored content was created in collaboration with a Skift partner.
Given the current economic climate — with tighter lending conditions, rising construction costs, and a slower level of recovery across some urban downtown areas — many large hotel groups are placing greater emphasis on conversion-ready brands as a means of achieving future growth. Case in point: In 2022, around half of Accor’s new hotel openings were conversions.
In a hotel conversion, an existing hotel property changes its independent status or brand affiliation, typically joining a larger hotel group. For independent hotel owners who may be struggling to compete on their own, leveraging the support of a global player like Accor can be very compelling.
“A well-established brand can provide a swift revenue boost through access to powerful sales, distribution, and loyalty platforms,” said Camil Yazbeck, global chief development officer for the premium, midscale, and economy division at Accor. “They can also counteract rising costs through increased efficiencies. For example, Accor can provide expertise and cost savings in areas such as design and technical services, purchasing, and operations support.”
According to Agnes Roquefort, global chief development officer for the group’s luxury and lifestyle division, nearly all of Accor’s brands are conversion-ready, but some are considered “superstar brands that provide more opportunities for independent hoteliers.”
SkiftX spoke with Yazbeck and Roquefort about the “superstar” conversion brands in their respective divisions, what happens when a hotel decides to join Accor’s portfolio, and how the group’s brand conversion strategy aligns with its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments.
Premium, Midscale, and Economy: Delivering Scale
Taking a closer look at Accor’s premium, midscale, and economy division, three brands stand out as particularly straightforward and efficient for hoteliers to change their brand affiliation or sign on with a global hotel group: Mercure, Greet, and Mövenpick. In turn, these brands have emerged as major growth drivers for Accor.
With more than 900 hotels across more than 60 countries, Mercure enjoys high global awareness among travelers. “By the end of this year the portfolio will boast more than 1,000 Mercure properties,” Yazbeck said. “The key to Mercure’s success is its unique character that we like to call ‘glocal’ — a truly global brand with strong local anchorage — hotel teams that express local values, design schemes reflecting local culture, and an emphasis on local traditions, products, and specialties throughout the guest experience.”
Mercure’s flexibility and “glocal” appeal, as Yazbeck describes it, is a win-win approach for both the owner and the operator. The turnkey nature of a brand like Greet also makes it a top conversion-ready brand because it retains the existing hotel almost “as is,” keeping 70 percent of its furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E). “Brand markers are added in the form of an eclectic mix of FF&E sourced through Accor’s upcycling and recycling partners,” Yazbeck said. “This innovative approach makes things quick, easy, and cost-effective for our owning partners.”
The brand also provides the advantage of staying ahead of environmental regulations and expectations while optimizing investment and operational costs through its commitment to efficient energy use and low food and beverage waste.
Another Accor brand, Mövenpick, has established a global footprint of more than 115 hotels and a pipeline of more than 50. Strong in both urban and leisure markets, Mövenpick is poised for high-volume expansion across Europe, the Middle East, and Greater China. In the latter market, a master franchise agreement signed between Accor and Sunmei Digital Intelligence Group in 2022 will create some 400 Mövenpick by Accor smart technology hotels across Greater China, representing more than 60,000 guestrooms. Expected to scale rapidly over the coming years, Mövenpick by Accor has already signed 10 hotels, with more than 100 additional hotels in various stages of negotiation.
“This premium brand has built a reputation for culinary excellence over 70 years and a brand platform centered around a passion for good food and drink,” Yazbeck said. “Mövenpick is very adaptable and welcoming to local variations of architecture and décor. The spirit of the brand comes through in the way guests are treated and in the unique food and beverage program — with chocolate hour, turn-down treats, and so forth — with a great deal of flexibility in how each hotel might be styled.”
In the midscale category, Accor also offers Handwritten Collection, a portfolio of bespoke hotels expected to number 250 globally by 2030. Since its debut in early 2023, the brand has already opened eight hotels and has more than 150 leads in its development pipeline. “These charming hotels offer an intimate and stylish hospitality experience, often very expressive of the owner’s personal interests and passions,” Yazbeck said. “We designed this brand with the needs of independent hotel owners in mind, with brand standards that are adaptable, light, and easy to attain.”
Luxury and Lifestyle: Personalized and Purpose-Built
Meanwhile, Accor’s luxury and lifestyle division requires an even more carefully curated approach to brand conversion that accounts for hotel owners who want to retain the unique identities of their hotels.
“Luxury and boutique hotel owners want access to our sales, loyalty, and distribution platforms, which all require scale to be powerful and have impact. However, they also want to keep the heart and soul of their hotel intact,” Roquefort said. “To that end, our two collection brands on the upper end of the market are designed to preserve the personality and character of the hotel: MGallery Hotel Collection and Emblems Collection.”
At the entry level of the luxury segment sits MGallery, a global network of more than 110 hotels. Accor expects to open more than 100 new MGallery locations within the next 10 years.
“With MGallery, we’re targeting what we call charming, refined, and creative hotels in which the owners want to either retain the singularity and uniqueness of their hotel or be helped a bit by refreshing the hotel,” Roquefort said. “We help them find the story of the hotel by digging into its history and surrounding culture. We invite owners to be part of this brainstorming, positioning, and translating of the story into concrete products and services. We help them craft memorable moments.”
By contrast, Emblems Collection welcomes higher-end luxury hotels that comprise iconic properties and historic landmarks — and its footprint will remain small by design, with just 60 hotels targeted to open by 2030.
The inaugural Emblems Collection hotel signed by Accor is the Guiyang Art Center Hotel in China’s Guizhou province. “The owner wanted to convert his private residence into a hotel as a gift to the local community,” Roquefort said. “It will become a landmark hotel with only around 60 suites in a magnificent palatial building when it opens in late 2023.”
Another Emblems Collection property will open soon in the Philippines, and Accor is actively seeking new properties to join the collection in targeted destinations across the globe, including Paris, Prague, Marrakech, Cairo, Bangkok, and Seoul, among others.
What Happens After a Hotel Decides to Convert?
Once a hotel signs on, Accor assembles a team of operators, developers, and manufacturers to procure resources that independent hoteliers could not otherwise afford or access on their own. Converting a hotel to one of Accor’s brands can be as simple as selecting ready-to-go design concepts or pursuing a completely bespoke design path.
“Our design and technical services teams are skilled at swiftly converting existing hotels to an Accor brand with simplicity and efficiency,” Yazbeck said. “Flexible brand standards for these brands make the transition easy, allowing hoteliers to focus on driving revenue quickly. At Accor, we have been on the owning side of the table too, so we understand the mindset of an owner and are able to creatively find the solutions that work best for their specific property and investment objectives.”
Beyond optimizing costs with physical upgrades and refreshed design features, Accor works with owners to define the story of the hotel for marketing efforts and offers professional expertise to boost sales, increase average room rates, and generate additional incremental revenue. They also support the hotel by plugging it into the group’s extensive sales, distribution, loyalty, marketing, purchasing, technology, and ESG programs.
By aligning with Accor’s ESG programs and sustainable hospitality model, owners start on a path toward making their buildings more energy-efficient, reducing their carbon footprint, and meeting today’s expectations for more responsible operations and eco-friendly guest experiences.
“Conversions of existing buildings can also be easier on the environment than undertaking new construction,” Roquefort said. “One of the owners we work with said they want to give the next generation something they can be proud of, something that is good for the planet. Now that conversions are part of Accor’s DNA, we can help them write that new chapter.”
If you want to learn more about Accor’s brand conversion opportunities, please visit Accor’s hotel development page.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch