We know Accor is large – but to throw some numbers into the mix, the company currently operates around 2,900 hotels in Europe, spread among approximately 800 different hotel owners of all different types. The challenge for Accor lies in building effective working relationships between Accor team members and all the various parties representing the ownership side – and it seems that digitalization is the answer.
To facilitate smooth communication, Accor has set up its own digital ecosystem, MAX, within the span of just four years. It aims to enhance the hotel owners’ experience by allowing Accor to improve the management efficiency, strengthen ties between hotel owners, teams, and stakeholders, and ultimately achieve greater hotel guest satisfaction. In particular, there are three key areas which Accor must address through MAX: setting up the management agreement, operating the hotel, and finding solutions to problems.
All hotel owners want the performance of their property to be fully optimized, and trust and loyalty are essential. However, because of the distance involved and the lack of communication, the true potential is rarely unlocked. With the help of MAX, the owner-operator relationship is enhanced and trust can more easily be achieved. The system simplifies data, reports, loyalty programs, and services for hotel owners and allows them to conveniently deal with franchise and management agreements. A customized experience is provided for each user, making it simple to be innovative and effective with personalized preferences.
Apple founder, Steve Jobs, famously stated that “great things in business are never done by one person – they’re done by a team of people.” For Accor, those teams comprise experts in development, operation, and solutions, and each has a specific role to play.
The developers set out to expand the hotel network by seeking out new opportunities, negotiating deals with owners, and putting in place the final agreements. The operations experts have the task of running the hotel, effectively managing staff to create customer satisfaction, and earning profits for the owners. The solutions experts look closely at each individual hotel, and work out how to grow the business within a very specific set of circumstances, working closely with the owners to do so. To ensure that all of these specialized business teams can work together seamlessly to serve the hotel owner, Accor has an internal version of MAX, known as WeMAX.
All of this is great news for owners working with Accor, as the working relationship is streamlined to the benefit of both parties. However, the lessons learned as Accor developed the MAX and WeMAX systems are equally valuable for anyone considering how to address a similarly complex task. Here are some of the key takeaways:
1. Get full support and a proper budget from senior management: this gives any project the best possible chance of succeeding on time.
2. Involve the users from the start. That way you’ll know what people need in order to do their jobs, and you won’t simply hand them something they didn’t want or need as the finished plan.
3. Make sure you understand what users actually do, what they expect, and what their pain points are – then there is a chance they’ll use the system as intended.
4. If you run pilot projects, pick different countries or different contexts, and be aware that what works in one situation might not work in another.
5. Go live as soon as possible with a minimal version of the system. This allows users to become accustomed to its nuances step-by-step, and gives them a chance to offer input in a practical context.
6. There are many standard products with standard functionalities which will do the job. Trust your platform editors to implement what’s needed, and don’t be tempted to run up costs by developing specific systems internally.
7. Be forgiving, patient, and resilient. Change takes time, and not everyone will embrace it at the same pace. Best practices will spread among peer users over the longer term.
Both MAX and WeMAX are solutions that represent a great step forward for hospitality, making life easier for owners and operators alike, but their ultimate success will depend on the people who must commit to extracting every ounce of the potential they offer. Getting the design and implementation right is the key to making digitalization work.
To learn more about MAX and WeMAX, visit Accor’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Ky9EX7Fu1wVZlvSDCyAQA