Accor is an amazing giant of a company. Probably no one, not even in Accor, know precisely how far it extends. Think something over 4,000 properties and you will not go far wrong. It has a multiplicity of brands. The economy hotels — still pretty snazzy and very acceptable — are the Ibis brand and there are seven of these currently in China. By 2010 there will be 120 Ibis-branded economy hotels if the Asia-Pacific managing director Michael Issenberg has his way.
Unusually, Accor plans to build and own all of the new Ibis properties and not just manage them for other owners.
Michael Issenberg said, ‘This is our most aggressive position in Asia. It’s very important to have an absolutely standard product.’
There is a fair amount of competition in this area with foreign-owned rivals including Super 8, the world’s largest budget hotel chain, and InterContinental Hotels Group, owner of Holiday Inn Hotels and Holiday Inn Express. (Note that there are many more Holiday Inn hotels in China than InterContinental has anything to do with. It is one of the most pirated of the hotel brands.)
Despite expansion plans by its rivals, Michael Issenberg, probably rightly, dismissed concerns about a potential oversupply. He said, ‘Sometimes supply gets a bit ahead of demand. But the mass majority of all travel is in the economy sector.’
Accor plans to open 20 Ibis economy hotels on the mainland within a year, bringing the total number of locations to 40 by 2009. By 2010, the Ibis brand will account for 75 per cent of the 160 properties Accor plans to develop in China.
While establishing a footprint through fully-owned new builds is slower than growing through franchising or management deals, Michael Issenberg said it was necessary to guarantee the quality and standard of the brand across the country.