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ACCOMMODATION


ACCOR HOTELS AT THE END OF THE YEAR, Accor Hotels announced the acquisition of three iconic brands – Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel. The French hotel group can now count The Savoy in London, Plaza Hotel in New York and Raffles Singapore in its portfolio. It also became the first foreign hotel operator to re-enter Iran after economic sanctions there were lifted. However, Accor was nominated by BBT readers for taking a stand against the rising


power of online travel agents (OTAs) by opening its website to independent hotels. So the group now acts like an OTA for independent properties and is another example of distribution fragmentation. It has opened up its distribution plat-


form, accorhotels.com, to a selection of third-party hotels and, like Lufthansa, it is another example of suppliers changing the way travel is booked. This could be the start of a model that will be copied by other large hotel operators.


ARNE SORENSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL CONSOLIDATION IS ALWAYS A WORRY for travel buyers as it can mean higher prices and less leverage in negotiating rates, so recent deals have been closely followed in the managed travel sector. One of the key people involved in one of the biggest travel deals last year was Marriott


boss Arne Sorenson, who also incurred the wrath of buyers when he announced that the hotel group would offer free wifi to travellers – but only to those who book direct. He has overseen an unprecedented expansion in recent years and at the end of 2015 had one million rooms operational or in the pipeline – before the Starwood deal. With more than 20 brands to manage, a huge acquisition deal and his work as chairman of Marriott’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council, it could be a big year for Arne.


BESPOKE HOTELS ONE THING THAT AIRBNB HAS SHOWN the accommodation sector is that there’s still a huge demand for staying in distinctive, independent properties. This trend hasn’t escaped the hotel chains, who have started to target independent hotels and slap their corporate brands on them, including Tribute by Starwood and Edition by Marriott. Bespoke Hotels have approached it in


a different way. A mid-sized independent hotel management company, it owns a


ONES TO WATCH


ALBERTO REY-VILLAVERDE, HEAD OF DATA SCIENCE, EASYJET EASYJET, LIKE ALL AIRLINES, collects huge amounts of data. This may be regarding the 170 million items of food and drink carried across all of Easyjet’s flights, the 1.5 billion hours flown each year by the components on its fleet, or the 1.3 billion searches of easyjet.com over the course of the last 12 months. Alberto Rey-Villaverde has recently been appointed as Easyjet’s first ever head of data science, and his job is to analyse this data using artificial intelligence (AI). Traditional computing simply records and orders, whereas advanced AI computing uses this data to predict and provide for future events – for example, anticipating the failure of a component so it can be replaced, avoiding an unexpected failure; or predicting demand for items of food and drink on each flight, so that supplies match customer demand.


74 BBT JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


small amount of hotels, and is partnering with an ever-increasing number. The company takes on a hotel, but the


hotel retains everything, including the name, staff and licences. What Bespoke does is provide management support, including sales, branding, marketing, operations and financial management. Its portfolio already includes Bermondsey Square Hotel London, Hotel Gotham Manchester and The New Ellington in Leeds.


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