Accor rebounds to pre-pandemic levels but some business meetings gone forever

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Accor has recorded a strong recovery in the second quarter of this year returning to pre-pandemic levels, according to its latest half year results.

Globally, the results were mixed depending on the levels of restrictions, with China and those countries reliant of Chinese visitors unsurprisingly still underperforming.

But in Paris and London revenue per available room figures were above 2019 levels, with restrictions largely absent now across Europe and the UK.

“This quarter, Accor reported a very strong growth in business, exceeding pre-crisis levels for the first time,” said Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor.

“The summer will confirm these trends and the fall promises to be strong with the recovery of major seminars and conventions. At this stage, the group should report strong growth in EBITDA, with a target of more than €550 million for the full-year 2022.”

But one area that will possibly never return to pre-pandemic levels are business meetings, with a new report by Accor forecasting that 20 per cent of business meetings are gone for good.

The Business of Travel report was derived from a recent panel of European business leaders across 10 industries.

While the report found face to face meetings produced around 25 per cent more revenue for workers than virtual ones there had been a “major shift” in travel priorities.

An increased focus on sustainability and wellbeing was impacting travel decision making with carbon footprints becoming an increasing concern.

“Offsetting is no longer enough, and our hotel partners need to prove they are actively reducing our footprint,” said one panel participant.

Sophie Hulgard, Accor’s senior vice president sales Northern Europe, said the business meeting landscape had changed for good.

“Twenty per cent of business meetings may have gone forever, to be replaced by virtual equivalents or the realisation that they simply weren’t necessary in the first place,” she said.

“Instead, we are seeing the emergence of a much more purposeful business travel sector where companies want to maximise the value of each trip to reconnect teams, grow culture, strategise, close deals, and strengthen bonds with employees.”

Hulgard said that while business trips created “real connections” the bar had been raised in terms of overall value.

“…The future of business travel must banish inconsequential trips and replace them with business-critical travel that is sustainably planned and delivers for the employee, the employer and the planet,” she said.