Accor has signed a deal with Sabre to create a new product combining property management and central reservation systems, which it hoped would accelerate growth.
The deal was described by one analyst as looking similar to that signed between InterContinental Hotels Group and Amadeus.
The cloud-based system would, Sabre said, enable hotels to drive revenue growth beyond traditional sources and offer unique personalised services to guests.
Sébastien Bazin, chairman & CEO, Accor, said: “Sabre shares our vision of a future where hoteliers are able to offer guests an unforgettable, personalised experience that goes beyond simply being a place or service.
“Partners like Sabre are essential to helping us effectively leverage existing and new technology to further accelerate our net supply growth and lower costs for our hotel owners as well as for the group.”
Justin Ricketts, president, Sabre Hospitality Solutions added: “Sabre’s vision to create a new marketplace for personalised travel relies on its technology strategy and bold investments for the future.”
“For Accor, the new technology will bring an opportunity to further and significantly enhance the group’s core business activities including hotel distribution, guest recognition and owner relationships,” said Gilles de Richemond, CIO, Accor.
Accor has acquired a number of technology companies in recent years, bolstering its offering to owners, including Fastbooking in 2015 and Availpro and VeryChic in 2017.
Richard Clarke, an analyst at Bernstein, wrote in a note: “The deal looks similar to the Amadeus IHG deal in both the content but also with the hotel company being a pilot partner with the hope the software, once proven, can be rolled out to other hotel companies.
“IHG have achieved faster unit growth since signing with Amadeus. Accor will hope to repeat this success.”
IHG and Amadeus signed a deal in 2014 to create a new system to replace Holidex, its central reservation system which was launched in 1965. The company started work alongside Amadeus in 2015 and four years later started to roll it out to hotels in its system.
At the beginning of last year, IHG said that it was testing new features, including variable point pricing for members, and further customisation through new ways of classifying and selling rooms.
The company said: “The combination of IHG’s industry insight and expertise with Amadeus’ technology capabilities and broad travel experience will ensure IHG continues to offer the most innovative and efficient technological solutions at all stages of the Guest Journey (Dream, Plan, Book, Travel and Share) to enhance guest experience.”
At the group’s second-quarter results last year, CEO Keith Barr told analysts: “We have continued to strengthened our enterprise and enhance revenue delivery. Through our cloud-based technology platform, IHG Concerto, we are developing an updated arrivals platform, which will give our guests an improved arrivals experience through features like mobile pre-check-in.
“Through Concerto, our owners can also now use a proprietary price optimisation software for groups business to help them drive better yields. And we continue to iterate our new guest reservation system with the first phase of the rollout completed, the development behind attribute inventory and pricing is well underway.
“The investments we are making in our development capabilities whether technology, engineering, or people are driving an increase in signings.
“Crucially, it is accelerating the pace at which we move our pipeline from signings to ground break to opening. The work we've done to help our owners drive better returns from their assets with more cost-efficient prototypes for Holiday Inn and across our extended stay brands will continue to underpin our accelerating growth. And we're creating more franchise opportunities too.”
Marriott International has also looked at its systems, commenting last year that it was rolling out its enhanced booking system with increased room selection and personalisation and was also launching peak and off-peak pricing.
Insight: Yes, IHG had been running Holidex since 1965. I haven’t been running this body for that long and it still sometimes creaks in the morning, so, frankly, more power to them for managing to run a global hotel company off the back of it for so long.
But since I’ve been operating aforementioned body, people have become much more picky about what they want in all aspects of their lives and, thanks to the likes of Amazon, getting it too. We have become cosseted, spoiled, told that we’re all special snowflakes and should have everything we want very much as we want it, with half-caf and steamed soya milk.
The hotel sector was, sadly, late to this party, convinced as it was that branding was everything and all hotels must be absolutely consistent all around the world or no-one would want to stay in them. Aspirations borne from a time when hotelling wasn’t the skill set it is now. But, with the onset of Airbnb, guests have realised that the only part of the stay they need to be consistent is the transaction and for the rest? They want their soya milk steamed, ta very much, and their name written on the outside.
Hotels are waking up to this and starting to see the customer, not just the booking number. Now, with IHG, you can choose rooms, avoid the front desk, pick your view, pretty much control every aspect before arriving and protect yourself from unseemly surprises.
But the hotel guest is not the only consumer of the large global branded stables, or, for many, the most important. The owner needs to feel they’re getting a full hotel at the best price - with costs well under control.
Accor needs to illustrate to its owners - and shareholders - that it can deliver after the M&A spree it has been on and comments from IHG’s Barr about happy owners and plumped-up pipelines will not have passed it by.