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The Accor Group: Challenges and Solutions

Accor is the world’s leading hospitality and tourism operator and a leader in the European market. The group runs in 90 nations and has about 145,000 personnel. Accor claims a far-reaching brand portfolio in terms of budget and luxury and offers its clients and business affiliates the knowledge and expertise gained in more than 45 years, making it the global leading hospitality and tourism operator. Accor’s prominence in the industry is exhibited through close to 15 luxury and economy complementary brands that are distinguished and appreciated across the globe for their high quality services. Among the Accor brands are Thalassa Sea & Spa, Sofitel, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Pullman, Mercure, MGallery, Etap Hotel, Motel6, Lenôtre,  and HotelF1. In total, Accor has more than 4,200 hotels with over 500,000 rooms in the 90 countries. The group’s brand is well-known for hotel stays tailor-made to the specific demands of each corporate and individual customer.

Because of its many budget and luxury brands, Accor is as of now the only hospitality and tourism group that operates in all market segments. This diversification of products enables Accor to respond to petition for segmentation from individual customers as well as hotel owners seeking multi-segment and multi-brand solutions. This hospitality and tourism group is deeply devoted to meeting its guests and employees’ needs by utilizing expertise acquired in over four decades. These are all the factors that have contributed to Accor’s market leadership in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East regions in terms of destinations, number of hotels, and the number of rooms. Accor’s extensive global coverage is a key strategic advantage in venturing into new markets, especially in the developing economies.

Hospitality and tourism companies usually diversify their products in relation to budget range, i.e. budget, mid-scale and luxury, and the services they offer. On the other hand, brand recognition and connection with various qualities of service are significant factors in the success of global hospitality and tourism groups, such as Accor. However, consumer trends are shifting apace. For instance, low-cost air carriers and cyber-based booking systems are appealing to holidaymakers that prefer organizing holidays individually rather than seeking package deals. There are more challenges such as those related to sustainable development, sex tourism, safety and security, climate change, and environmental degradation, that Accor faces. This paper describes each of these problems, explains what Accor has done, and is currently doing to address them to ensure its global leadership in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Sustainable Development

The hospitality and tourism industry, particularly Accor, has an important role to play in ensuring sustainable development. However, in the process, every tourism group faces various environmental issues, such as water consumption, building heating, waste management, and site preservation. Accordingly, the tourism industry is a real ground for discovering new lifestyles and technologies for global sustainable development. Besides, the Accor group operates is many corners across the globe, such as in suburbs, downtown, rural, metropolitan, mountains, along coasts, remote, and modern regions. This wide diversity in locations makes the Accor group a direct and advantaged witness to the most serious global problems, such as illiteracy, poverty, and diseases. While Accor is in business, it has a challenge of keeping its financial targets while it operates in areas facing such problems (Kandari and Chandra 2004, p.16). Apart from the problems in the community, over the past ten years have engaged the global hospitality and tourism industry undergoing a wave of amalgamations, acquisitions and sell-offs and closures, which have resulted in even higher levels of concentration of  possession and control in the biggest international tourism groups.

Besides, people are increasingly using natural resources to satisfy their growing needs, albeit with distressful consequences. For instance, the world consumes about three times more energy as compared to its consumption four decades ago, when Accor opened its doors in the tourism industry. Of this energy, 80% comes from by burning natural gas, oil, and coal. For Accor, this state of affairs raises two principal concerns:

i.)                   Burning fuels for energy greatly contaminates and heats the atmosphere;

ii.)                 This combustion of fuel largely depends on exhaustive natural resources.

Scientists are concerned that it may take up to millions of years to regenerate the resources that the world consumes in just a few tens of months. To meet its energy demands, Accor contributes to taking an increasing percentage of the Earth’s natural resources, thus, being in one of the sectors targeted by environmental activists. These activists are raising the awareness that the tourism industry is also contributing to the losing of fertility, disappearance of forests, drying up of sources of drinking water, and losing nature’s biological diversity. Accor operates in the planet whose consumption increase has contributed to a global waste production, which is estimated to stand at1.5 times higher than two decades ago, with just 10% of that waste being recycled today. The waste from the hospitality and tourism industry, such as from Accor group of hotels, is believed to pose storage and environmental pollution complications.

Another sustainable development challenge that Accor faces is the fact that over a billion Earth inhabitants still survive below the global poverty line of just $1.25 a day, both in the North and the South. Accor operates in markets that have more than a billion people suffering from undernourishment, while in the most affluent nations in the world dietary habits are causing many problems, such as cardio-vascular diseases. Owing to the planet’s demography and social changes, the speed at which communicable diseases spread is rapidly increasing. For instance, more than 33 million people are HIV positive in the world, 90% of whom are not aware if they are infected. Because many people are sick, the economy weakens and the tourism industry is one of highly affected, hence a challenge to Accor. Since education is one of the solutions to problems related to sustainable development, like any other multinational company, the Accor hospitality and tourism group has a role to play in ensuring public awareness. However, it has not been easy for the group to contribute to the improvement of education in many of the countries it operates. In an attempt to address the problem of sustainable development, Accor have been involved in corporate social responsibility.

By Accor being the global leading hospitality and tourism operator in more than 90 countries, it has a unique positioning that undoubtedly helps to explain the group’s groundbreaking commitment. By 1974, Accor’s management identified and recognized the environment as the “raw material of tourism,” which means, the group was committed to protecting it. Two decades later, the Group became among the pioneering prominent French corporations to found an environment department within themselves. From that time, Accor has been accumulating extensive experience in relation to the environment, to address the issue of sustainable development and to gain public approval.

Presently, sustainable development at Accor is established on a few solid principals:

  1.                      i.            Sustainable development is not confined only to the environment—it also includes all sorts of allegiances to the population, such as fighting against epidemics, and protecting of minors from sexual tourism;
  2.                    ii.            The Accor Group wins by taking advantage of its ability to mobilize. In other words, through its wide network of hotels and tourist spots across the globe, the Group has the capacity to rally a battalion of affiliates around joint projects for sustainable development;
  3.                   iii.            Accor also believes that communications concerning sustainable development have to be centered on specific actions, remain stringent, and clear on the attained results.

While attempting to solve problems associated with sustainable development, Accor has won several awards, including the Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2010, from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) for Accor’s best practices in sustainable global tourism. Accor also launched a partnership with the Institut Pasteur to battle developing diseases through Accor’s loyalty program, A-Club. Besides, Accor is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, which was awarded for the construction of the Group’s construction of high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Sex Tourism

It is approximated that two million children all over the world, even with some being as young as five years of age, are subjected to commercial sex trade. Many of these youngsters are coerced, forced, enticed, and tricked into becoming prostitutes. Some researchers have defined the act of child sex tourism as the practice of going to a different country with the aim of having sex with young children. Day by day, the act of sex tourism has been exacerbated and the commercial sex trade industry is far from fading away. Global child sex tourism varies from casual and individualized sex acts to the massive organized sex acts (World Vision 2010). Both circumstances involve foreign settings in which tourists decide to pay for the body of a resident child as a major attraction. The problem is very eminent, and just like any other tourism investor, Accor Hospitality And Tourism Group also faces this challenge.

It is evident that children who are at the highest risk of getting into the sex trade come from the economically relegated societies, especially in the developing countries. Accor operate in some countries like these, including Costa Rica, Cambodia, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. These places also happen to be the most popular tourism destinations, thus, there is a more likelihood of attracting sexual predators. These destinations also happen to harbor many potential victims of sex trade. Even in the developed nations, the issue of sex tourism is evident. For instance, it is approximated that the U.S represents 25% of child sex tourists in the world. The Latin America percentage goes as high as 80% of the same.

Recently, progressively more hotel and tour investors are coming together with the aim of combating sex tourism, and promoting the children’s rights worldwide. For instance, in this case, the hotel chain of Accor works together with a network of organizations and individuals in the umbrella of End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Traf%uFB01cking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) with the aim of heightening awareness in hotels situated in child prostitution and child pornography high-risk zones. In addition to handing out of more than half a million brochures in over 300 travel agencies, Accor is also establishing an initiative to raise awareness against child sexual abuse in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Accor hotel chain is also creating video spots in their hotel rooms to show that, there are laws for prosecuting child sex offenders, both in the home country and in other countries where the offence occurred. This idea was borrowed from ECPAT France, which screened on the same on Air France %uFB02ights in the effort to stop global child sex tourism. Other airlines have made the same kind of efforts; however, Accor’s effort will be the first to be used in a hotel.

Such initiatives are critical stages in the direction of eradicating global child prostitution and pornography. The efforts that companies have exerted in preventing sex tourism show the prominence of the issue in the hotel and tourism sector in relation to reputation and brand value.

Safety and Security Threats

Accor faces another challenge in relation to safety and security. The hospitality and tourism sector is highly contingent upon the public’s insight of global health as well as security risks. Security concerns are likely to reduce the demand for hospitality and tourism services, and this has been Accor’s challenge as well. However, Accor has been among the organizations playing a preventative role in relation to this issue. Considering that several catastrophes, such as  terrorism, earthquakes, and  tsunamis have recently affected demand for travel, hospitality and tourism services, Accor has been getting involved in crisis prevention, as well as taking various measures to adequately respond to crises. Among such measures have been:

  1.                      i.            Recruiting independent security companies to protect its visitors and properties; building secure walls around the Group’s properties;
  2.                    ii.            Providing security personnel to accompany its visitors in risky areas;
  3.                   iii.            Laying strong foundations for its new buildings for better resistance against natural forces; and collaborating with the defense ministries in all the countries it operates in to manage insecurity.

In addition, the Group has been giving press releases to reassure the public about the safety of the travel and tourism industry. Accord takes all these measures with the information that safety and security problems can result in legal battles where a tourism company has failed to protect its client safety.

Climate Change

The countless hotels throughout the globe consume large energy amounts, and if badly handled, these hotels can use up significantly a lot of energy than homes. It is thus important to implement energy-efficiency standards since energy is scarce in most tourism destinations and because of the impacts of atmospheric emissions on climate that come up because of energy consumption. National policies on carbon-reduction and the famed Kyoto Protocol are put in place to target such encounters, and consequently, avoid the increasingly change in climate. Tourism services produce huge amounts of solid waste, resulting to undesirable environmental and aesthetic effects. They also consume a lot of water, exerting pressure on water sources.

Accor, in conjunction with the Hotel & Catering International Management Association’s (HCIMA’s) is working towards dealing with the issue of climatic changes. As a result, over 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide is saved annually. The aim of this collaboration is to cut down on these global warming gases through improvement of energy ef%uFB01ciency. These efforts will also see a lot of cost savings. To cut down on environmental impact, Accor is adopting a various measures of water conservation and ef%uFB01ciency. Accor, together with environmental organizations are rallying for companies that cause environmental degradation not to be granted future operating licenses. Although it may cause a low annual turnover due to less clientele, Accor is behind the effort of implementing higher travel costs to tourism destination in order to cut down on the demand for international tourism.

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