With Emblems Collection, Accor adds a new brand to its already extensive portfolio to fill a gap in the market. But that’s not without raising a few questions.
Emblems Collection: a new luxury brand for Accor
Last week Accor announced the launch of a new brand: Emblems Collection. This is a luxury brand designed to bring together independent hotels in the luxury segment.
Emblems Collection will thus complete the strategy already successfully launched with MGallery, a brand that brings together independent hotels in the upper segment of charming hotels.
Accor is thus continuing to expand in the “soft brands” market, a niche that has the wind in its sails.
What is a “soft brand”?
For some time now, customers have been asking for more and more personality in the hotel business, and they are less and less content with chain hotels that are all carbon copies of each other.
It’s against this backdrop that the major hotel groups have developed “soft brands” which, as their name suggests, allow each hotel to have its own personality and style, imposing only criteria linked to the quality of its services.
Specifically speaking, if you’re in a Novotel, you know you’re in a Novotel without even having to look at the sign or logo. If you’re in an MGallery, you’ll have to look a little further to know that you’re in a chain.
Why one more brand at Accor?
With a portfolio of more than 40 brands, one wonders what point Accor had in adding yet another brand when its offering already seems rather confusing.
The fact is, while the French hotel industry has a plethora of products on offer, it lacks a soft brand in the luxury segment. Accor had some in the premium segment (MGallery), had some luxury hotels (Sofitel, Raffles…), but lacked a luxury “soft brand”.
There’s also a second reason for this: despite its international expansion, Accor still has a strong backbone in Europe, a region where compared to the rest of the world there are many independent hotels, including in the luxury segment.
By neglecting soft brands in the luxury market, Accor has left the door open to its competitors in its own “domestic” market, which is unfortunate when you consider that in Asia and the United States, Marriott, Hyatt and others are pummeling it in this particular segment.
Indeed, Accor has been slow to position itself in this sector, which is so popular with luxury hotel travelers. Mariott has The Luxury Collection (created in 1906!), Hilton XLR… but at least the French hotelier has made its move before IHG, which has announced a project in this direction but has not yet put anything concrete in place.
What does the future hold for Emblems collection?
Launching a new brand is never easy, especially in an already crowded landscape, even if demand is growing.
By playing the soft brand card, Accor has made the right choice, not only because it meets a real demand, but also because it avoids one of its long-standing problems: not knowing how to do luxury. Sofitel, like many Accor brands, is too irregular…something that is annoying in the mid-range and unforgivable in luxury. Raffles is an acquisition, which proves that, organically, Accor is not at ease in this sector. So welcoming proven independents is a good initiative.
Then there’s the recurring question of the legibility of Accor’s brand portfolio:
– 40 brands is a lot, if not too much.
– Marriott has 30 brands but for 7000 hotels: 40 brands for 30 makes for a sometimes weak offer per brand.
– All the more so since Emblems Collection will itself be divided into 3 sub-brands: Heritage, Retreat and Signature. Did you say confusing?
It remains to be seen how quickly new hoteliers will join. To date, only one hotel has joined the Emblems Collection, the Guiyang Art Centre Hotel in China. Not much for a launch, especially when the ambition is to reconquer the luxury market….in Europe.
Accor aims to increase its footprint in the luxury market, particularly in Europe where the landscape is less dominated by chains than elsewhere, by bringing together independent luxury hotels under the Emblems Collection brand.
A well thought-out initiative, but it makes Accor’s offer even harder to read.