As part of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit’s Patron sponsorship program, ALIS organizers asked Accor’s Heather McCrory eight timely questions as we prepare for the 21st annual event on January 24-26, 2022, at the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Following are her responses.
What is the most common question hoteliers are asking you during your travels to various Accor properties throughout North & Central America—and what is your response to the question?
The most common question remains the same as prior to the pandemic; people are interested to hear about our upcoming development.
What are our plans to grow Accor in North & Central America? Where is the next major hotel opening?
We celebrated the official opening of Fairmont Century Plaza in LA in September 2021, an iconic address and significant addition to our regional portfolio, further solidifying our position as the second largest luxury operator in the US. Next year we will debut a couple of globally renowned Accor luxury brands which are new to the region – a new luxury development opening in Panama in early 2022 and the opening of Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences a bit later in the year. We will also continue to see tremendous growth and opportunities in Mexico, including two ibis openings and a new Novotel in Mexico City.
How have your previous career experiences, most notably in sales, marketing, and operations, helped you make decisions in your current role as the industry fights its way back to normalcy?
The experiences during my career path have definitely made me into the person I am today and as so many of the skills are transferable to any situation – it has been helpful. The three areas that stand out for me:
- Customer Insight – hosting continual one-on-ones/customer panels/advisory groups with Accor’s top clients – has been invaluable during this last 18-24 months to keep a pulse on what is happening from a hospitality and economic perspective.
- Consistent Communication – regularly engaging with and updating all stakeholders – owners, guests, employees – has been a top priority.
- And lastly, the Crisis Management skills that are inherent to hotel executives – the ability to react very quickly, make decisions and execute – were definitely put into use, especially in the early days.
What can the global hotel industry do to achieve a diversified leadership platform that is inclusive regardless of gender, racial and culture differences?
Diversity is achievable; but it takes more time and effort than people generally understand or want it to. Equity is also achievable with leadership who make it a priority. However, I believe Inclusion is more difficult; it requires a culture of curiosity and a genuine desire to understand all of the perspectives around the table. An inclusive culture creates a stronger organization – financially, competitively and driving engagement and retention.
It is an essential part of our DNA to ensure that Accor is a safe, welcoming, and inclusive place where ALL employees are empowered, supported, and thrive. We focus on five key areas of emphasis: recruitment, retention & development, education, celebration & recognition, and community. A couple of things that have worked particularly well for us include an extensive Inclusive Leadership training program, and an internal video series which explores the unique life experiences of our employees.