Brand Experience

Accor Boosts Local Digital Marketing Strategy Amid Pandemic Lessons

19 September, 2023

Accor Amplifies Localised Digital Marketing Strategies in Post-Pandemic Era

Ollie Ansell, Vice President of Commercial Market Strategy at Accor, likens his role in revenue management and digital marketing to his previous job as a bartender. Both professions demand the ability to read cues – one from customers at the bar and the other from data predicting customer buying behaviour. The ultimate goal in both scenarios is to maximise profit.

With a portfolio of over 400 luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels across Southeast Asia, South Korea, Japan, and India, Ansell has observed the evolution of digital marketing over the past five years. However, the pandemic brought about the most significant changes.

“We learned to leverage local marketing channels like LINE and Kakao more effectively during the pandemic,” Ansell remarks. “These channels have become integral parts of our marketing mix, helping us strengthen our presence in local markets and increase loyalty members and direct business.”

In 2019, direct web business accounted for 30% of their market share. By 2023, this figure had increased by more than five points. Ansell sees potential in maintaining these direct booking trends in the domestic market, despite the risk of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) regaining that share due to the resurgence of international travel.

Ansell reveals that Accor will continue to focus on localised strategies, applying insights gained not just for domestic markets but also for targeting inbound markets. He notes that domestic business still constitutes 50% of their total business, a 10-point increase from 2019.

Thailand witnessed a significant shift from offline to online consumer behaviour. “Online platforms capitalised on Thailand’s situation during the pandemic, introducing quarantine products and collaborating with government subsidies to stimulate domestic travel,” Ansell explains. This strategy led to a surge in online booking behaviour, a trend that Ansell believes will persist.

With 85 properties in Thailand, Accor is the largest international hotel brand in the country, well-positioned to capitalise on both inbound and outbound markets. Ansell notes that Japan and South Korea remain the top destinations for Thai outbound travel.

Investments in digital marketing by Accor’s hotels have also contributed to their strong performance. The pandemic’s restrictions on trade shows and sales trips allowed hotels to explore new areas. Ansell highlights that well-executed content strategies can yield impressive ROI.

However, there are challenges. Ansell points out a talent gap in the industry for driving digital strategies, exacerbated by a shift from hotels to e-commerce during the pandemic. He also sees this as an opportunity to further transform their team, developing new skills such as content creation, storytelling, and digital distribution.

Ansell also mentions the potential of generative AI in digital marketing, within corporate governance and guidance parameters. “We have hundreds of people working on AI projects across the business,” he says. “Our use of AI enhances customer experience through personalisation, increases team productivity with code generation and SEO tools, and aids better decision-making through solutions for Revenue Management. AI presents a significant opportunity for us, and we continue to accelerate our efforts in this area, especially with the recent emergence of gen AI.”

In conclusion, Accor’s post-pandemic strategy focuses on localised digital marketing, leveraging technology and innovative approaches like Gym Marketing and Facebook Ads to attract more gym members and enhance gym lead generation. This advertising for gyms approach is a testament to Accor’s adaptability and resilience in navigating the challenges of the pandemic and the evolving digital landscape.