25hours Hotels is trialling a service which sees hotel staff offering service to local residents, not only guests.
The offering had echoes of AccorLocal, the service being tested by the 25hours Hotels shareholder and part of efforts to pursue the ‘third vertical’, which sees revenue driving through incremental services.
25hours’ trial was taking place at its hotel in Hamburg, with services including laundry, bread delivery, yoga classes and the standard concierge services such as booking restaurants and giving recommendations.
Christoph Hoffmann, 25hours Hotels’ co-founder, told Hotel Analyst: “We are becoming a bit more analogue when everything has become a bit too digital. Our hotel group is not five star but we think that people appreciate good advice. We want to offer services to our friends, to our neighbours – we offer our neighbours rolls and baguettes before they get up, it’s easy for us – we already have the rolls.”
There was no additional charge for the services, with Hoffmann commenting: “It’s not a something that pays off directly. We have to have interesting people, we have to pay for the technology, it all costs and we are asked how does it pay off, when do we get our money back? We know people appreciate it, but we don’t want to ask for fees. But I think we can add value for the guest. When you check in it’s about passports, credit cards, not interesting things. If you have someone who takes away that pain, it’s a much better experience.”
Hoffmann did not advocate all hotels replicating the product, adding: “It depends on the locations and the property itself. It’s easier to do that in a hotel which is rooted in the neighbourhood, but there are issues if you have a managed property versus a leased property, you have additional complexities. You need to have patience.”
Hoffmann’s comments were made as James Bland, director, BDRC Continental, told attendees at this year’s Hotel Distribution Event, hosted by Hotel Analyst, that, for hotels to remain relevant, they “will need to be part of a community, the local market will have to be engaged with it. It doesn’t just apply to geography, but to their online presence”.
The strategy of integrating hotels into the local community was also being pushed at AccorHotels, which bought 30% stake in 25hours Hotels for EUR35m in 2016. Last year saw AccorHotels launch AccorLocal, an application allowing residents who live near an Accor property to access “the services of local artisans and companies”.
Other services are provided through larger partnerships and include: bouquets delivered to the hotel’s reception with AccorLocal’s special bouquets in collaboration with Pampa, Bergamotte and others; yoga, pilates and relaxation classes provided by Oly Be in a room let by the hotel; quality bread delivered by Poilâne, Nespresso capsules pick-up and deposit points accessible 24/7, a pay by-the-hour car rental service with AccorLocal offered by Hertz 24/7.
Launching the project, Sébastien Bazin, chairman & CEO, AccorHotels, said: “For the past 50 years, millions of customers around the world have trusted AccorHotels’ hospitality expertise. When they go through the door of one of our hotels, they can be certain of finding, at any time of day, a customised service offered by more than 250,000 people who are passionate about our unique savoir-faire in the field of hospitality and service. We have now chosen to make this unparalleled wealth available to benefit community life by developing an unprecedented model, creating social connections and value for small businesses, local communities and staff members at our hotels.”
Summer this year saw AccorHotels sign a deal with luggage storage firm Stasher to bolster its AccorLocal offering in Paris. The company said: “Most hotels already offer a similar luggage storage service to guests; so for AccorLocal, the partnership with Stasher is a minimal effort ancillary service that will enable them to attract additional footfall and monetise their extra space. This is a key goal for AccorLocal, who were launched by Accor last year to generate new revenue streams for the group and to promote hospitality services in the Accor hotels to non-guests.”
HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Hoffmann told us that the inspiration for Conciergie came from the film The Grand Budapest Hotel, specifically the scene where Harvey Keitel helps Ralph Feinnes “in a difficult situation” and fans of the film will be able to envisage how helpful it would be to have motivated staff in that instance. The sector is pleased that Hoffmann wasn’t watching The Shining when the muse struck.
The complexity is now in the implementation. As Hoffmann said, these schemes cost and so, if you want to make them part of your brand’s differentiator, you have to factor that cost in. Having viewed the trial of AccorLocal at the Ibis Cambronne in Paris, this hack can confirm that staff buy-in is a tricky beast and possibly a budget hotel may not be the most obvious place to undertake a trial. Or maybe it is.
But for a sector which is seeing its vision of what ‘service’ is under attack, products like Conciergie and AccorLocal, which are looking to be less products and more a shift in how a hotel operates, may become as necessary as good wifi. Not a moment goes by that the sector doesn’t moan on about the difficulties of finding good staff. Invest in your people and give them something interesting to do where their knowledge is valued and those issues may fall aside.