Maud Bailly joined Accor in 2017 as chief digital officer, in charge of the French hospitality company’s information systems, hotel and guest systems, digital products,
data and global sales. In late 2020, she became CEO for the company’s businesses in Southern Europe and then in January 2023 she moved into the role of CEO for four of its luxury brands: Sofitel, Sofitel Legend, MGallery and Emblems. 

February Accor reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2023, with record EBITDA of $1.08 billion for the year, up 49% compared with 2022, and revenue up 20% to $5.5 billion. 

The Luxury and Lifestyle division,
where Bailly’s brands sit, posted revenue of $2.4 billion, up 22% year over year on a like-for-like basis.

And Bailly sees opportunities for much more growth ahead.

In a conversation in the PhocusWire studio at the Americas
Lodging and Investment Summit
in Los Angeles in January, Bailly shared how new customer expectations and habits are driving more interest in the luxury hospitality sector. 

Coming out of the pandemic, she said, consumers “want to be part
of something” and are willing to spend more on truly meaningful experiences.

“Our guests choose our brands to embrace a promise,” she said.

“The minute you stay in our hotels, it’s not transactional, it’s not a commodity. You are not there to sleep or enjoy scrambled eggs. You are here to discover something authentic, ideally deeply, locally rooted, and it’s going to be different
in each destination.”

And despite some in the industry expressing concern that increased use of technology such as artificial intelligence risks destroying the human element of the hospitality experience, Bailly does not share those concerns.

in the luxury sector, she said, “digital is an enabler” for hotel staff to create an enhanced, more emotional connection with guests.

“AI [is] allowing us to remove people, our staff from the back of the house, relieving them from the heavy tasks with no real added value for the guests and replacing them in the center where they belong in front of the guest. It makes a
lot of sense,” she said.

“So we are massively working through technology and AI to really get rid of the reporting and data collection stuff, improve our forecast accuracy, our personalization and then allow our staff to be really where they
belong – with the guests.”

Bailly also discussed the importance of driving total revenue per available room through dining, wellness and other experiences. She also explained why the “luxury of tomorrow has to be sustainable” and how her
brands are taking concrete actions to improve their social and environmental impact. 

And she has three pieces of advice for young women entering the travel industry today.

Watch or listen to the full discussion below.

Executive Interview: Accor’s Luxury Strategy

Phocuswright Europe 2024

Hear more from Maud Bailly at Phocuswright Europe, June 10-12 in Barcelona.

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