Hotel group Accor, which has 13 brands worldwide including Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis, has partnered with Tripadvisor to offer guests direct access to independent reviews.
Accor’s deputy senior vice-president of direct sales, Romain Roulleau, says: “There are individual hotels with this feature on their site but we are the first worldwide chain to feature the Tripadvisor widget on the hotel website itself. We are very transparent for the customer and we assume not everything is perfect and we know some [reviews] will be good and some not as good but the idea is to get our hotels to improve in quality.”
Those searching for a hotel on accorhotels.com will see the Tripadvisor widget once they have selected a specific hotel. (See the image below as an example.) Users will also be able to see the overall Tripadvisor rating and the last five reviews made about the hotel, and they can then click through to tripadvisor.co.uk to read the full list of comments.
Guests who have stayed at an Accor property will receive an email seven days after their stay from Tripadvisor and Accor asking them to complete a review. This new feature is at the pilot stage and, although all UK hotels have the widget, the full roll-out will be finalised in mid November. Visit accorhotels.com and look out for more details in the next few weeks.
Accor’s Twitter Concierge
Accor has embraced Twitter and is currently testing out a concierge service encouraging guests to “tweet” their queries to twitter.com/accorhotels.
Roulleau says: “We are testing an e-concierge service to answer our customers’ queries. I think with social media we are at the very beginning and we need to see what works and doesn’t work. The US is doing a lot of things in social media – Hyatt is doing the concierge concept – but with Accor it is for Etap as well, so it is a concierge service for a low-cost brand. This is a facility possible on the web whether you book luxury or low-cost.”
Accor relaunches iPhone app
The hotel group also released version two of its iPhone application over the summer. The free app originally launched in December 2009 but Accor has since made improvements.
Roulleau says: “We started with the mobile website, which has been available for more than two years, but then we launched the first iPhone app and the figures went crazy.”
The updated version is available in seven languages with Brazilian and Dutch added to the existing French, German, English, Italian and Spanish. Videos of the hotels are also a new feature – 800 videos are available – and Accor’s AClub members will automatically have their loyalty points added to their account when booking through the app. Another addition is the map, which shows all Accor properties in the area with real-time prices of rooms flagged up, making it easy to pick the nearest property at the best price. The booking process has also been simplified.
Roulleau says: “People love it because we have a big network [3,000 hotels] and a reasonable choice. We also have a way to select the brands so you can just look for Novotel and not for Mercure, and you can sort by proximity, price or brand, and then download the video.”
Accor is also developing apps for Blackberry and Android devices for release in the first quarter of 2011. Roulleau says: “Blackberries are more complicated because all of them have different sized screens so you need to make sure it works for all these.”
The Blackberry app will also be able to process codes for business travellers booking through their corporate account. This isn’t available on the iPhone, as Roulleau explains: “We assume that people with corporate contracts usually are not using iPhone – we’d rather target iPhone for either smaller companies or leisure travellers. We use Blackberry for bigger companies.”
The iPhone app has generated seven million euros in bookings since its launch, with the Ibis London Heathrow being one of the most popular. The target for next year when all three apps are launched is €20 million.
The Facebook game
Visit Accor’s Facebook page to take part in the Helen Johnson Affair – guests have until November 14 to “find” the fictitious Helen Johnson by following clues on Twitter and Facebook and win a holiday to Bali. To visit the Accor Hotels facebook page, click here.
Report by Felicity Cousins