C-suite perspectives: Accor COO talks customer strategy and digital disruption

In our latest c-suite perspective series, we chat with the chief operating officer of Accor pacific, Simon McGrath, about digital strategy and customer engagement for the hotel chain

Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific
Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific

Accor Pacific’s chief operating officer, Simon McGrath, shares how the hotel group is adjusting its customer strategy to cope with digital disruption.

Our marketing strategy… is based on sound consumer insight and business requirements first, before we consider channels most appropriate for each brand to reach our customers. People are increasingly searching online to find information. For this reason, we invest in search engine marketing and ecommerce websites including Accorhotels.com, as well as branded websites that deliver relevant and up-to-date information about our hotels.

We are also constantly optimising our brand messages online through digital display advertising and providing branded messages on the most relevant platforms, such as TripAdvisor. We listen and talk to consumers via our social networks, particularly Facebook. Our focus this year has been on multi-device engagement.

My view of marketing… is that it is more important than ever if we’re to distinguish our brands in a cluttered environment. Marketers are required to find creative ways to cut through with diminishing budgets, but we also measure the impact of marketing – particularly in digital – on our top-line performance. We have invested in a digital commerce team to complement the marketing and communications team, which ensures we have robust tools and expertise to maximise returns from our primary channel, Accorhotels.com.

The role of the CMO… is probably one of the most critical and broad roles in any organisation. It requires natural intuition and gut feel about behavioural movements in wider society. The CMO needs to be able to take and interpret all the information available and shape this into strategic pillars. These guide and verify product design and customer experience – and then the real heavy lifting begins. The CMO will live and die by communications being grounded in consumer insights. The final skill is clever management of lean resources to maximise brand exposure and engagement.

We’re investing our digital marketing dollars in… integrated brand campaigns that break travel industry norms, leverage our partnerships and our strength in PR. The consumer purchase process for hotels has drastically changed over the past five years towards online. We no longer own the brand conversation, so it’s critical we are responsive to customer feedback and manage our online reputation. Our digital dollars are weighted towards search engine marketing, through which we see a 25:1 return.

Email is also important in acquisition, and 2014 was hailed as the year of metasearch, with 13 per cent growth in the hotel industry. That is a huge growth opportunity for Accor.

We are developing a customer-centric culture… through our Peopleology training program. This provides a framework for understanding people using scientific and emotional insights, and challenges staff to find the right answer to meet our guests’ human needs. Since introducing the program, we have achieved 38 per cent growth in our Net Promoter Score.

Big data… helps us to gauge a customer’s frequency, recency, brand preference and improve our understanding of their relationship with individual hotels, and across Accor’s portfolio. We have a new relationship with InTouch Data to deep dive into the use of data in a hospitality context. And we continue to utilise our loyalty programs to provide tailored events and offers to members.

If I could hire one extra employee… it would be an expert on customer journey, as we need to continually adapt.

More c-suite and CEO perspectives on marketing

This article originally appeared in CMO magazine, Issue 3, 2014. To subscribe to get your own magazine copy, please register through our online member system: cmo.com.au/subscribe.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Searching for social and marketing data

Many marketers, agencies - and everyone in between - get caught up on bubble references and data points. They’ll use Facebook best practice as the only best practice for Facebook executions and only consider metrics and responses of the one channel they’re expected to deliver on.

Isaac Lai

Connections strategy lead, VMLY&R Sydney

Why Australia needs more leaders

A few weeks ago, our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison took it upon himself to tell companies and their CEOs where to go when it came to societal issues. It wasn’t an organisation’s place to get involved. Instead, he said it should be left to governments to solve societies challenges.

Dan Banyard

Managing director, Edentify

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Informative blog. Xero is a well-known revolutionized accounting software, specifically developed to provide best User Experience and mak...

NavkarConsultancyServices

Xero evolves to fit a changing marketplace

Read more

>Writes article about how to show diversity in an authentic way>All featured opinions are from white women

Jennifer Metcalfe

Food for Thought: How can brands show diversity in an authentic way?

Read more

Excellent post, congratulations !!! - Prof Paulo Coelho | https://www.drpaulocoelho.c...

Prof Paulo Coelho

The B2C and B2B marketing transformation helping Invisalign win more smiles

Read more

Great article - but regarding "For a team to achieve their full potential, Edmonson also advises leaders balance psychological safety wi...

Sim

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration - Business leadership - CMO Australia

Read more

I would invest money in machine learning. I think it's important to do that. Don't you agree?

Polly Valentine

Metcash to use AI for promotional planning optimisation in liquor division

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in