Accorhotels is testing its Accorlocal concept internationally, though in a quiet way, at present, with 25hours hotels.

CEO of Accorhotels Sebastien Bazin has been evangelical about his ideas for Accorlocal, though at present it is only available in select hotels in France.

Speaking with Business Traveller earlier this year, Bazin explained that the idea was to expand its customer base beyond hotel guests to those living around the hotel.

“The problem with our industry is we see our customer three or four times a year. Some, probably less than five percent, we see 20 times a year. Facebook sees their customers 12 times a day, Amazon four times a week.

“If we want to grow and have high valuation we need to interact better in a more frequent manner with the same customers. It costs us a bundle to acquire a customer, so when you have him, why don’t you stick with him and offer him something which could be enhancing his day to day life even if he isn’t staying with you.

“So [we] go beyond the hotel space, and try and procure him something. He might live next door to the hotel but he needs to use a 24/7 facility. Can he drop something up, pick up a box, have his laundry done, book a restaurant in a hotel through the digital concierge close to where he is going to visit? [Accorlocal] is enlarging the net. Accorhotels need to be top of mind whenever there is something service-related.”

Accohotels has not been willing to comment about how the programme is performing in France, but now the German hotel brand in which Accorhotels invested back in 2016 has announced that guests and neighbours of one of its hotel have been able to make use of a new “new neighbourhood service” at the 25hours Hotel HafenCity, Hamburg.

As with Accorlocal, the idea of the new service is that the concierge service of the hotel is opened up beyond hotel guests to “neighbours in the district”. The brand says that two employees take care of any restaurant recommendation requests and concert tickets, but can also help local residents find handymen or personal trainers.”

As part of the pilot, the service and demand are being tested in Hamburg, before rolling it out to other hotels in the group (there are presently 12). To give it the best chance of succeeding, the ground floor of the 25hours Hotel HafenCity has been redesigned to provide a “new concierge workspace”.

Locals can ask the concierge to book a bread delivery or laundry service, or even a yoga teacher or personal trainer, via email, phone call, or of course, in a personal discussion. The concierge can also arrange a handyman service – for repairs, installations, assembling or disassembling furniture, or work on the garden or terrace – or even a private chef or catering service.

Additionally, there is a wide range of services available that can be useful for individual households: these services range from sending gifts or flowers to window-cleaning and ironing.

Speaking earlier this year Bazin was clear about the aim.

“The end of the game is there are 7.5 billion people living on the planet, and around 1.3 billion travelling, which is wonderful because they will become two billion. But at the moment you have six billion not travelling, one billion of whom are not travelling, but are in urban cities, many of which are gateway cities.

“So they know our brands and walk past the hotel but they don’t enter because they are afraid someone will ask them ‘What’s your room number?’ And they don’t have one because they live next door. So we should offer that one billion something they need. And if we succeed maybe it will be 20 percent or 50 percent of our business, but believe me it is worth trying.”

Accorhotels has been aggressive in both expanding and also diversifying. Is there a risk it is over-diversifying? As usual, Bazin sees the risks differently.

“There’s the risk of being unsuccessful. There’s the risk of being misunderstood and the risk of being wrong.”

The launch of the 25Hours initiative will provide further evidence if he’s right or not.