The Sybaritic Single remembers a time when Air France owned Le Méridien (1972-1994) and Pan Am had InterContinental (1946-1981). Until recently, the airline-hotel model remained long-forgotten, with each business focusing on its core competency, be it flying jets or running hotels.
Therefore, he was surprised when AccorHotels announced its interest to acquire a 14.3% stake in Air France-KLM. Sébastien Bazin appeared as on a shopping spree lately, adding more brands than ever to his stable, slicing his customer demographics thinner than ever. The result? A millefeuille of 22 brands with at least seven in the luxury segment.
With 870 hotels in the development pipeline, what could AccorHotels’ involvement with the airline be? Sofitel has been providing its signature bedding to Air France La Première passengers since 2015 and the Sybaritic Single appreciates it greatly on his flights to Paris. It now appears that Bazin is trying to build an entire ecosystem around his core hotel business, with concierge services, catering, travel management sites, technology and now Europe’s largest airline being part of it. This might seem reasonable to some of the 41 million member of the Le Club AccorHotels programme and some of the 15 million members of FlyingBlue, but what value could it offer to luxury travellers who look beyond miles and points?
As a strictly luxury bon vivant, the Sybaritic Single remains skeptical. He certainly enjoys the French art de vivre and turns to LVMH for most of his luxury shopping, be it baggage (Louis Vuitton), suits (Dior Homme), Champagnes (Dom Pérignon), shoes (Berluti) or bathing (Acqua di Parma). Yet he wonders if AccorHotels could ever become the LVMH of travel and find a way to capture and develop the lucrative luxury niche? If the Sybaritic Single could offer Bazin a hint, he would suggest looking at his favourite Fauchon and its first-ever hotel at 11 Place de la Madeleine, Paris – it opens on September 1st, 2018.