Accor has collaborated with Microsoft to launch a new hybrid meetings concept powered by Microsoft Teams technology.

All Connect will officially launch in April 2021 and will allow corporate customers and meeting planners around the world to combine “physical in-hotel meetings with virtual interactions across multiple locations”. The concept focuses primarily on smaller meetings of eight to 50 participants.

The meetings will take place on the Microsoft Teams platform, with attendees able to connect and engage virtually. Within the hotels’ meeting spaces, Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub 2S will connect on-site guests with remote ones through “industry-leading audio and video device experiences”.

Customers will benefit from the expertise of dedicated teams, and there will be bespoke programmes and experiences available to attendees. The concept will also be operated in line with the group’s All Safe sanitary and safety protocols.

At the moment, 55 per cent of Accor hotels with meeting rooms are already providing hybrid meetings solutions to customers. The hotel group aims to build on this, aiming for 100 per cent of these hotels to comply with the new hybrid meetings standard by 2022 across all of its brands worldwide.

According to research carried out by Accor, 50 per cent of physical meetings planned by the company’s Meetings and Events customers in 2021 will switch to virtual formats. Additionally, 70 per cent of respondents see hybrid meetings “as an important service in the future”. The company also states that further sector analysis reveals a trend towards remote events and meetings that is unlikely to disappear after the pandemic, especially as customers begin to focus on more sustainable corporate travel.

Patrick Mendes – Group Chief Commercial Officer in charge of Sales, Marketing, Distribution and Loyalty at Accor, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused business travellers and meeting planners to review the way they work. Virtual and hybrid formats have become an essential part of daily business life. Accor’s new concept All Connect, created in collaboration with Microsoft Teams, will be an important tool for our guests, offering them the opportunity to organize safe, qualitative and seamless hybrid meetings as they continue to focus on health and safety and sustainability.

“All Connect is another example of Accor responding rapidly to the ongoing crisis following on from the launch of AllSafe and the rollout of Hotel Office and co-working concepts. We are delighted to launch this collaboration with Microsoft, knowing that Teams has become a new way to work for 115 million daily users who come together every day to meet, call, chat, and collaborate.”

Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft global sales, marketing and operation, added:

“The future of work is hybrid, and the services and experiences which organizations offer their customers will reflect this. We want every person and every organization to benefit from this new working environment in a way that ensures business continuity. That’s why we are proud to collaborate with Accor on All Connect, helping their customers stay connected wherever they are.”

Accor is not the first hotel group to offer hybrid meetings in the wake of the pandemic. NH Hotel Group has redesigned its meetings and events experiences for the Covid-19 era, while Marriott is offering virtual solutions and Hilton began to roll-out hybrid-ready hotels across its portfolio last month.

Marriott is also offering Covid-19 testing for group meetings at select properties in the US.