Accor reorganises global offices as fate of SEA markets remains unknown

Last week, French hospitality group Accor said it will be laying off 1,000 employees globally. In a statement to Marketing, Veronique Augier Nel, director of communications and CSR, Asia Pacific said the reorganisation is specifically targeted at its global corporate offices and does not affect hotel employees. At the time of the interview, there have been no jobs loss in Singapore. The spokesperson added that the reorganisation has not been finalised yet, and hence the impact on Accor's Southeast Asia markets are still unknown.

This job cut comes as Accor saw its revenue drastically reduced due to the impact of COVID-19. According to Augier Nel, although Accor implemented cost savings across the group (which included travel bans, hiring freezes, reduced sales and marketing costs and some furloughing of team members), it realises that impact of COVID-19 is longer and deeper, and find it necessary to reduce its costs further.

"Accor will need to become simpler, leaner, more agile and even closer to the field, to ensure we can emerge stronger and better than before when the recovery happens," she added.

With the situation faced by the hospitality group, Augier Nel told Marketing that it has shifted its marketing strategies during this time of uncertainty. Turning away from traditional marketing messages, Accor's marketing communication is currently focused on connections rather than conversions, with the company actively communicating with its customers to strengthen their relationships with them.

Accor is also placing more emphasis on connections with members in its loyalty programme "ALL – Accor Live Limitless". This included a social media strategy called "ALL@home", where Accor delivered engaging and inspirational content such as cooking classes with chefs, yoga or exercise sessions with famous sportspeople, musical concerts, and children’s activities for its members to enjoy at home. The engagement we saw during this period was very positive.

Accor is now moving to the next stage of recovery, where it will launch another initiative titled "ALLTogether", which will feature content centered on inspiring people to return to travel. It has also launched its "Reignite the Love of Travel" campaign to remind people about how much they love travel and to give them hope and inspiration that they can return to this safely.

Aside from getting customers to think about their next travelling plans, Accor also aims to provide the assurance to their customer that it is safe to travel. This comes in the form of communicating its ALLSAFE cleanliness and hygiene protocols, as well as its partnership with insurance company AXA to deliver free access to tele-medical consultations to guests staying at its hotel. With this, Accor aims to ensure that people feel confident to return to travel.

"Loyalty counts more than ever, so we are introducing new points offers, extended status and better value and experiences for members of our ALL loyalty programme," Augier Nel said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact on the travel and hospitality industry, and Accor is no exception. Augier Nel told Marketing that occupancy levels have decreased by 60% to 70%, from where it would normally be. For the first half of 2020, Accor's revenue was down 53.9% globally. However, the hospitality company believes it has now reached the bottom and is starting to see hopeful signs in countries where tourism is opening up.

Most recently, Bintan Lagoon Resort has also closed down due to the impact of COVID-19, according to multiple media reports. It is added that 500 of its employees were laid off following its closure. Similarly in Malaysia, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan in Sabah wound down operations and terminated its employees in May. In a letter to employees by general manager David Scully, the hotel had been experiencing economic downturn over the past few months due to a lack of demand for products and services in the hospitality sector. Scully said in the letter that while the company has taken initial steps to find alternative ways to reduce the impact of business losses such as temporary job cuts, these efforts still burdened the company and resulted in employee layoffs due to the hotel's closure.

Separately, travel lodging provider Airbnb also laid off about 1,900 out if its 7,500 employees in May, which comprises approximately 25% of the company. This comes as Airbnb was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the global travel industry to come to a standstill.

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