The Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria, BC. Photo:
On July 12, 2016, France-based AccorHotels acquired FRHI Hotels & Resorts and its luxury brands Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel. In Canada especially there was much discussion and concern that iconic hotels like Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Fairmont Royal York and others would lose their distinct Canadian identity and its rich history dating back to the late 1800s with Canadians and visitors alike.
TMR asked Kevin Frid, recently appointed as AccorHotels chief operating officer for North America and Central America, what changes if any will be happening to these hotels under the new ownership and what challenges are ahead with promoting the lesser known AccorHotels brand to North American consumers and travel agents.
The Fairmont brand’s Canadian hotels (originally Canadian Pacific Hotels) have a long and rich history with Canadians and visitors. Do the owners of AccorHotels understand how deep that relationship is and are there plans to retain this?
As proud stewards of many of the world’s most historic and iconic hotels, we feel privileged to share this rich heritage with the local and global communities who have graced the halls of our many Canadian heritage properties.
The warm, engaging service provided by Fairmont colleagues is a hallmark of our brand, and our excellent guest services and hotel management teams across the country have a deep commitment to the hotels, local communities and preservation of the Canadian narrative. We will continue to look to these talented colleagues to maintain and foster the relationship these iconic properties have with our nation’s history.
In fact, as we head into Canada’s 150th birthday next year, we expect coast-to-coast celebrations, along with the many activities and exclusive events our hotels have planned, to only deepen that connection with Canadians and travelers from around the globe.
Preserving and leveraging the brand’s special association with Canada is very much taken into account by AccorHotels.
The AccorHotels brand is not well-known in the North American marketplace. What are some of the ways you plan to raise the profile to North American consumers and travel agents?
While Fairmont is very well-known in this market, some other AccorHotels brands already have some presence in North America, such as Sofitel and Novotel, and for many international travelers they have already likely experienced an AccorHotels brand. It is more reminding them that we are here and with much more choice and selection. Our objective is to continue to support the brands and hotels that exist in North America today.
For travel agents, we’ve already started this. For example we had a large presence at the recent Virtuoso in Las Vegas. Expect to see more of this in the coming months as we start to create integrated programming in support of travel advisors. We believe that a well-informed travel advisor is an amazing resource and partner, but all around, it is important to acknowledge that we live in a world where people have information literally at their fingertips. We anticipate that as the travel industry evolves our team will continue to help lead these changes. But we don’t foresee any immediate changes to the way we currently do business.
What are the benefits to Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel in becoming part of the AccorHotels family?
This integration established a new market leader in the global luxury hotel market and aligns with AccorHotels’ strategic vision to increase our brand portfolio and global footprint. For Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel they will start to see the benefits of a larger parent group that provides new innovation and investments in robust digital platforms, and runs one of the largest guest loyalty programs in the world.