Leisure and domestic will increase much more rapidly than business travel in the next four years, said Accor Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin in a CNN Marketplace Europe program that explored how businesses are enticing tourists back to Europe.
Bazin said the balance between business and leisure travel will feel the effects of Covid-19 for a while longer and may take a while to reach pre-pandemic levels, “It’s going to settle back probably to what it was pre-pandemic, but that’s going to be four years from now. For the next four years leisure, domestic will increase much more rapidly than business travel.”
Despite job losses in the last year, Bazin says Accor is actively recruiting people again as tourism reopens across Europe.
“Accor hires every year 80,000 new people. Why? Because we open one hotel a day, which is 365 hotels per year, in which I need 50,000 new people. It’s a time for us to continue hiring a lot of people.”
With more than 5,100 properties, 1,700 fitness centers and gyms, 600 spas, 310 resorts, and 10,000 restaurants and bars across 110 countries, Accor is looking to welcome back its loyal customers with its global initiative, “Unveil the World.” The global campaign specifically targets leisure travelers through the lifestyle loyalty program ALL (Accor Live Limitless) offering a range of experiences and benefits across its diverse portfolio of hospitality brands to drive business recovery.
The group’s objective is to bolster the leisure offering with new experiences in sport, culture, wellness and entertainment from culinary destinations like Mama Shelter or Mondrian, to luxurious wellness programs at Raffles, Fairmont, Pullman or Swissôtel.
Accor boasts iconic leisure flagships across the world, with Fairmont Château Whistler (Canada), SLS Dubai (UAE), Novotel Megève Mont-Blanc (France), Pullman Oceanview Sanya Bay Resort (China), Rixos Water World Aktau (Kazakhstan), Raffles Bali (Indonesia), Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour (Australia), and more.
Bazin also discussed how furlough schemes have impacted the hotel industry. He said many workers are reluctant to return and that companies should work to improve conditions if they want to attract staff back to their roles. “Maybe we have to do a better job to give a better identity and to basically spend more time with our own employees as much as we spent time with our clients.”
Leisure travelers are also looking for new experiences when they travel now. According to tour guide Kevi Donat, his ‘Le Paris Noir’ walking tour, focusing on the lesser known Black history in France, has received a lot of interest now than it has previously.
He says tourists want something different after the pandemic. “They realize that travel is something precious, that has been gone, and Paris is always a good idea. And now when they travel they want something unique, they want something authentic.”
In Lapland, one company has been using VR 360° videos to bring experiences to tourists in their homes, since the pandemic. Chad Blakely, CEO and founder of Lights Over Lapland, explained: “Pandora’s box has been opened and people understand now that they can travel round the planet without leaving their homes.”
After posting the VR videos, which cost around $12,000 to make, the company says its web traffic quadrupled within a week. For many tourists, the videos serve as inspiration rather than a replacement, with Blakely saying: “I believe that some people that see the VR tour will never come to visit, just because it’s out of reach. But, I also believe that the VR tours will create interest and will lead people to come to our tours.”