by Loren G. Edelstein | June 06, 2017
Kevin Frid, COO, the Americas, for AccorHotels, appreciates that presenters at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference (see our coverage here and here) are not talking along party lines. What's happening in the industry as a result of the new administration is factual, he said in an exclusive interview with M&C. Following are highlights from that discussion on Monday.
 
"Big airlines canceling flights from Middle East due to shrinking demand. We know -- it's factual -- that our international business in the U.S. is down 6 percent this year. Annual revenue from international travel to the U.S. is $200 billion, so if you're talking 6 percent, that's very significant. Also, Middle East visitors spend a lot more than anyone else.
 
"To me this isn't about travel bans or walls or anything else. What these things add up to is, you're either a country that welcomes people or you're not. Fortunately, we have significant properties up in Canada, so we are a little more balanced than some of the big brands in North America that are extremely U.S.-centric. Canadian business has been strong and it continues to be strong." Here's what else Frid had to say:
 
How do you differentiate Accor properties in such a crowded marketplace?
We have the greatest depth of brands and breadth of offerings, everything from lifestyle hotels to home shares. By the end of this year, we will be the largest company in the world in terms of luxury home stays.
 
How is One Fine Stay, which you acquired in 2016, different from Airbnb?
Airbnb is a transaction. One Fine Stay is hospitality-driven, it has concierge services, it has housekeeping. To be a member of One Fine Stay, a home has to be inspected in advance and has to qualify to participate. It is a luxury service experience, whereas that competitor you mentioned has zero service. It's no different than when you go to an economy hotel vs. when you go to a luxury property. 
 
What have all your recent acquisitions meant for the company?
No other hotel company in the world has been more active than we are. We open a hotel every 36 hours. It's not just adding hotels. We've been very aggressive and innovative about how we grow. Every month for the past three to four years we have made a deal a month, like One Fine Stay, Travel Keys, we acquired a luxury catering company and a French entertainment company, among so many others.
 
How do you compare with Marriott? 
As companies, Accor is a very global company, the largest operator of hotels in the world -- the key word here word is "operator," as a number of our properties are franchised. Most significant is that Accor is perceived as the most innovative hotel company in the world.
 
Which is your most anticipated opening for 2017?
We really are excited about opening in Austin [Texas] this fall, the Fairmont Austin. In all of the U.S. there are not too many thousand-plus-room hotels opening. And I think Austin is a cool place. Fun, great weather, great restaurants, great culture. The hotel is attached to the convention center. It's completely changing the way Austin is able to accommodate group business.