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Views of AccorHotels India’s Nilesh Patel

August 14, 2015
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AccorHotels is a leading global hospitality brand. In India, it operates a network of 31 hotels comprising seven distinctive brands spanning the luxury to budget segments. Nilesh Patel, director, IT, AccorHotels India, talks about how technology has helped the company improve the customer experience and its future telecom plans. Excerpts…

How has technology adoption helped AccorHotels offer an enhanced consumer experience?

We offer our guests high-speed internet broadband connectivity, high-tech in-room equipment, diverse mobile applications and much more, thereby enhancing their stay experience. AccorHotels has launched its Welcome project to enable virtual check-ins and reservation, with the objective of offering our travellers an unprecedented personalised welcome. The project helps do away with administrative formalities. Through the deployment of this digital solution, AccorHotels provides an online service to meet the needs of travellers. Over 2 billion of the world’s population currently owns a smartphone and 47 per cent of travel searches are made using mobile phones, making it the preferred device for planning and organising trips.

How has technology adoption helped AccorHotels India offer an enhanced consumer experience to its guests?

To meet the demands of our cosmopolitan, mobile and hyper-connected clientele, we are planning to provide a unified experience solution, where televisions, smartphones, tablets and various forms of personal content can be integrated into a single application to create a unified network of room entertainment services. This project is currently in the pilot stage.

Recently, AccorHotels launched a new strategy, Leading Digital Hospitality. The strategy has been designed keeping in mind the customers, employers and partners. It is aimed at incorporating digital technology throughout the customer journey. The plan is built on two key pillars – IT infrastructure and data management – which will be rolled out in eight stages, with the initial deliverables becoming effective this year. The plan includes four customer-focused programmes that aim to improve the knowledge of customers, the welcome they are given and the services provided to them. The programme will enable AccorHotels to expand its customer database and promote loyalty.

  • Mobile First takes into account customers’ migration to mobile devices by rolling out a single mobile application incorporating all the services offered by AccorHotels before, during and after hotel stays.
  • Customer Centric will develop and make optimum use of databases to ensure personalised follow-ups and services. This will centralise feedback on a single platform known as the “Voice of the Guests”.
  • Seamless Journey will ensure convenience for customers at every stage of their experience, with electronic payment solutions, a click booking system, online check-in and the Le Club AccorHotels virtual card.
  • Mice and BtoB will develop innovative digital solutions for businesses, such as online booking of seminar facilities, and will increasingly incorporate BtoB services in the global booking website, accorhotels.com.

The plan also includes programmes for the group’s employees and partners:

  • Employee Friendly aims to simplify welcome tasks using tablets and smartphones that provide training solutions and encourage experience sharing via AccorLive, an in-house social networking site.
  • Owner and Franchise Centric aims to make AccorHotels the most efficient and transparent partner, notably by offering comprehensive dynamic pricing and revenue management solutions, a dedicated portal for everything from personalised information and services to the optimised billing process that started this year.

In what ways is AccorHotels leveraging data analytics to improve the customer experience?

Data analytics is a key focus area of our digital strategy”. We are driving guest satisfaction through comprehensive 360 degree data management programme, which aims at enriching customer knowledge and delivering hospitality excellence throughout the customer experience. We are also engaging new guest feedback systems and an advanced CRM system to better understand our guests. Today, guest reviews have become critically important as they impact greater social acceptance across online networking channels.

What is the organisation’s telecom and IT blueprint for the next year?

The group’s digital transformation strategy also involves making IT tools and systems more robust and agile. To achieve this objective, we will be implementing the Infrastructure Transformation programme, which focuses on optimising systems to speed up the roll-out of new services and keep pace with rising transaction volumes. We will also invest in Business Intelligence & Analytics to ensure that operational decision-based analysis can collate large volumes of data. Going forward, we will be making significant investments in software to ease administrative procedures for employees and provide them with ample time to interact with customers. In fact, the organisation’s digital strategy has been designed to ensure a smooth customer journey through the use of digital technology.

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