As part of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit’s Patron sponsorship program, ALIS asked Accor SVP Mark Purcell eight timely questions as we prepare for the 20th annual event July 26-28, 2021, at the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Following are his responses.
What one word best describes the current hotel development landscape, and why do you use that word?
Opportunity. To be fair, we’ve been through a brutal 13 months that have resulted in significant challenges, both personally and professionally, for so many people within our industry, as well as outside of it, and in no way do I want to diminish that experience. However, as we come through the other side, as is the case with any significant market disruption, there are definitely opportunities.
How do you see new-construction vs. conversion activity taking shape during the next 12 months?
There will certainly be more opportunities with conversions in the near term, but we foresee new construction coming along quickly thereafter. We have been having many conversations with owners of unbranded hotels looking to get affiliated with a powerful reservation system and strong loyalty program to gain the benefits of scale and reach. Accor offers owners who are independent minded the opportunity to affiliate with a system where the brands are more unique and distinctive than perhaps some of the other large hospitality groups. We believe that offers us an advantage.
How does Accor view the opportunity for expansion in North & Central America during the next 12 months?
We think there is tremendous opportunity for us to expand our platform both through franchising, which we’ve put a renewed focus into, as well as management agreements over the next 12 months and beyond. We are a leader in both luxury and lifestyle in North & Central America and its where most of our focus is. We have great brands that are underrepresented in this region that can be positioned at nearly any price point. Our lifestyle brands range from luxury lifestyle with SLS down to Tribe at the midscale level and at every space in between. Our more traditional offerings are predominantly focused on the premium and luxury sector with brands like Fairmont, Raffles (with the first Raffles Hotel & Residences in North America set to open in Boston next year) and Sofitel. And with soft brands such as the MGallery Hotel Collection and Morgans Originals (including the recently announced Legacy Miami project), we are positioned well for independents and niche properties.
What general challenges and opportunities will emerge in the Americas during the next 12 months from a development standpoint?
Financing of new construction projects will remain a challenge for a period of time as lenders will be selective about coming back into the market. Quality projects with the right product type, location and sponsor will be key to successfully securing financing. From the perspective of a brand and management company, a challenge will be that there will be fewer projects happening so it will be highly competitive, requiring creativity and flexibility as well as great relationships to bring projects to fruition.