Interview with Patrick Basset, COO Upper Southeast & Northeast Asia AccorHotels

AccorHotels is one of the top hotel companies in the world with 4,100 properties offering over 570,000 rooms in 95 countries. Asia Pacific alone represents 26% of all capacities at AccorHotels, the equivalent of 761 hotels and 154,000 rooms. “Asia Pacific is now the largest market for us”, highlights Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for Southeast and Northeast Asia of the group. AccorHotels COO tells all about the group strategy in the region.

“We continue to see a strong growth of demand in Asia Pacific and this drives our expansion”, says AccorHotels COO. Accor manages 761 hotels in the region with close to 154,000 rooms. It has now plans to add over the next three years another 50,000 rooms in the region. “Indonesia is by far our largest market in ASEAN as we operate some 110 hotels. But Thailand shows also tremendous potential as we see a boom in tourist arrivals from both domestic and international markets. We currently operate 69 hotels in Thailand with over 16,000 rooms. And we plan to add 18 additional properties with 4,100 rooms until 2019. Bangkok is in fact the city where we operate the most hotels in Asia with 27 properties and 7,800 rooms”, adds Patrick Basset.

“Political stability has been a major element to tourism growth in Thailand. We see a continuous growth trend from Greater China but also from Europe to the Kingdom. Although Chinese booking decreased by 5% to 10% due to the government’s ban on “zero-dollar tour”, the newly announced policy of visa waiver should revert previous losses. We forecast that Thailand will receive 33 to 34 million tourists including some 11 million from Greater China”, says Patrick Basset.

AccorHotels will not only grow in Thailand. In Indonesia, the group plans to add another 18 hotels, representing over 10,000 rooms. It will also add until 2019 another 3,600 rooms in Malaysia, 2,800 rooms in Vietnam as well as over 1,000 rooms in Myanmar and Singapore. Explains Basset: “we are catching up in Malaysia by adding a dozen new properties not only in Kuala Lumpur but also in secondary destinations such as Penang or Johor Bahru. In Myanmar, we see new opportunities with many properties in the pipeline. Myanmar is growing fast since its return to democracy with some six million tourists expected this year. However, the hotel market remains handicapped by the lack of proper infrastructure”.

In Thailand, AccorHotels is reaching a new level of development. “We focus now more on secondary destinations and we are launching new brands in the market, targeting additional groups of travellers”, says AccorHotels COO. The group currently manages the largest portfolio of hotels in the Kingdom with 9 different brands present in 13 destinations. It now plans to add a hotel in Surat Thani (192 rooms), in Sriracha (303 rooms) and develop further in Chiang Rai by adding two new properties (179 rooms).

In parallel, Bangkok will see the addition of 8 new hotels with close to 2,000 rooms, Pattaya will have 980 additional rooms through two new properties while Phuket and Samui will also have two new Accor branded properties, bringing respectively 297 and 212 rooms to the islands. “We are proud to announce the opening of our third ‘So by Sofitel’ in Samui after Bangkok and Hua Hin. This will be an exceptional hotel with a very distinctive architecture”, describes Patrick Basset.

AccorHotels is looking at Thailand to launch new brands, what Patrick Basset calls “lifestyle brands”. “We recently acquired ‘Mama Shelter’, an eco-/mid-scale brand which benefits of the creativity of world design star Philippe Starck. We are looking to launch the concept in Bangkok in the Sukhumvit area. We are also looking at introducing our Joe&Joe brand. It is another revolutionary concept catering for travellers going to hostels. We asked a team of young talents –not really working in the hotel industry- to come out with a revolutionary concept. They came with the idea of life spaces to share, especially for travellers visiting places with families or friends”, adds enthusiastically M. Basset.

Another field where AccorHotels is expanding rapidly is branded hotel residences. This follows AccorHotels acquisition of Raffles/Swissotel and Fairmont. The chain has the pipeline some 30 residence properties in development around the world, including in Asia Pacific with new units in Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. “We now study the market and see potential to grow our portfolio of branded residences in Thailand in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket and Samui”, says Patrick Basset.