AccorHotels drops independent hotels program

After two years of allowing independent hotels to sell rooms on its booking website, Paris-based AccorHotels is reportedly dropping its Marketplace platform, citing lack of interest as a main cause.

The initiative launched two years ago as part of an effort to take on the OTAs. The service had reportedly aimed to triple the number of hotels available on the website by next year, bringing the total to 10,000. As of Thursday, only 2,000 independent hoteliers had signed up, leaving the French hospitality giant with “mixed” results, a spokeswoman said.

The main problem facing the program, Reuters claimed, was that potential guests would visit the website seeking a specific AccorHotels brand like Pullman, Mercure, Ibis or Raffles. In order to give the independent properties the visibility they needed, the company would have had to invest more heavily in marketing—and this would already be on top of the €22 million the company spent to launch the project, and the €225 million it plans to spend to improve its digital business between 2014 and 2018.

The online marketplace was launched following AccorHotel’s acquisition of Fastbooking in 2015. The brand later acquired software provider Availpro in April 2017 to bolster digital services for independent hotels. AccorHotels also allowed guests to accumulate points via its free loyalty program, Le Club AccorHotels, even when staying at independent addresses as long as the booking was made through Accorhotels.com.

The expansion follows AccorHotels' recent trend to expand into new segments in hospitality-related fields in recent years. Most recently, the company created a 50/50 JV with Bouygues Immobiliser to accelerate the growth of Bouygues Immobiliser's co-working brand Nextdoor throughout Europe. The company is also taking on the home-sharing movement by uniting three of its home-rental brands—Travel Keys, Squarebreak and Onefinestay—under the Onefinestay brand by the end of this year. AccorHotels CEO Sébastien Bazin has said in the past the company "made a mistake" when it passed up the chance to invest in Airbnb years ago.