Accor’s 37th brand, Greet, seeks to highlight sustainability and environmentalism, as well as a local touch, at every step of a hotel’s journey.
PARIS—Accor has launched its 37th hotel brand, Greet, which is centered on sustainability, recycled or up-cycled furnishings and only a small menu of brand standards.
Franck Gervais, Accor’s CEO for Europe, said the brand originated from the company’s recent innovations that created such brands as Jo&Joe, as well as guest expectations and its in-house environmental initiative Planet 21, which was launched in 2011.
The company’s Planet21 report, “Acting for Positive Hospitality,” states that “guests are … aware of the need to protect the planet now, but they are pessimistic about the means available to arrive at this goal.”
In a news release announcing Greet’s launch, Accor states the brand will “serve travelers who are who are looking to add meaning to their purchases and are aware of their impact on the planet.”
Gervais said such statements reflect both guests’ desire and how hotel companies can build profitable brands.
“Guests want a strong experience with personalization, which also has to be in coherence with their values and how they see the world. They need a strong purpose for their booking,” Gervais said.
Scott Dyde, director at Hong Kong-based SALA Design Group, said hotels are a great catalyst for changes in lifestyle, sustainability and environmental awareness.
“We are heading in the right direction. This is because guests live within a controlled environment, and how they interact with hotels is conditioned by design and the systems in place,” he said.
“As a guest, I might not care where the furniture came from or that it was up-cycled, as long as it functions, is comfortable and safe, (and) applied across the anticipated 300 hotels, is a huge benefit to the environment through waste reduction. Furthermore, if some of the brand’s environmental initiatives are successful, what’s to say Accor and other hotel operators don’t follow suit and apply those initiatives across their other brands,” he added.
Dyde also believes the hotel industry is more sustainable, but said it is barely scratching the surface. He added sustainability is sound business philosophy.
“There has been a pre-conception that sustainability is expensive, involves heavier upfront costs and changes to operations that might upset guest satisfaction or impact the bottom line,” he said.
“Hotel firms and investors really need to initiate this dialogue during the early stages of the development cycle. The greatest benefits a hotel can make to the environment and in relation to their bottom line are at the initial planning stages of a project. Assessing the economic performance and environmental aspects of a product or system over its useful life in conjunction with the operating and maintenance costs is key.”
Distinction and development
Gervais said Greet’s holistic approach is unique.
“We’re giving guests sustainability, local color and local flavor,” he said. “On the owners’ side, the brand provides many investment opportunities. … The product is not very typical in shape or size and can convert independent hotels or existing buildings. Owners can enter (the industry) with a new brand.”
Greet assets will range in size from 40 rooms to 80 rooms, with 20% having four to six rooms. The hotels will also be mostly franchised and likely not located in city centers, Gervais said.
Greet has an initial pipeline of 10 assets in the next year, with 300 projected to open by 2030 across Europe. By comparison, sister brand Jo&Joe, with hotels of between 200 and 300 rooms, has 12 locations in its pipeline.
Accor’s rollout of Greet will reach the French destinations of Bourges, Lyon, Marseille, Paris, Rennes, St-Germain-en-Laye and Saint-Witz, in addition to one property in Germany.
The initial push will be in Europe, but Brazil and Asia are in the cards, in countries in which Accor already is the No. 1 hotel firm, according to Gervais.
“In all those countries where we are the leading force, there is opportunity,” he said.
Cycas Hospitality will manage Greet’s first non-French hotel in Darmstadt, Germany. Chief Development Officer Asli Kutlucan said the Accor signing—its first with the French hotel giant—is a perfect example of how Cycas has successfully evolved over the last decade, with the firm now operating select-service, full-service and extended-stay hotels across five countries and 12 brands.
When Cycas entered Germany, executives aimed to extend beyond the obvious top seven German cities to strong secondary cities that combine positive economic indicators with strong hotel demand generators, she said.
“We also knew Germany’s stable economy and polycentric structure gave us a huge opportunity to contribute to the increasing diversification of the country’s hospitality landscape,” Kutlucan said.
Welcome to the brand family
Gervais said Greet shares some common ground with Jo&Joe, but is also different enough.
“The local touch is the USP of Greet, but what it has in common with Jo&Joe is its aspects of sharing and gathering,” he said. “Jo&Joe are to be more in city centers. The two are complimentary but not overlapping. Greet is more eclectic.”
Greet will be led by a French team but have European and global sensibilities.
The brand’s debut is the 52-room Greet Hotel Beaune, which opened in April near Dijon in France’s Burgundy region.
Accor will insist owners have certain standardized amenities such as a large table for guests to share meals.
“We want the identity of the brand to be respectful, but to have owners enjoy a certain freedom of implementation,” Gervais said.
He cited as an example the first hotel, which has reused furniture from a local cinema, but also hired a local designer, and sources all food within 15 kilometers of the property.
“We need to choose and select (food) and have guests assume not everything will be available,” Gervais said. “This approach will for sure have a strong impact on best practices. It is the most meaningful of brands.”
Construction or renovation costs will also have a manifestation of sustainability.
“The cost of building will be green and respectful, which is a good way to drive profitability. The way you are sourcing, with partnerships, and recruiting, not necessarily from the hospitality side but with locals who will be more loyal to the brand and the owner,” Gervais said.
Kutlucan sees Greet as a brand to breathe new life into Europe’s economy hotel landscape.
“Travelers increasingly value independence and flexibility,” she said. “With its community and eco-lifestyle focus … the Greet brand will tap into the growing demand for environmentally responsible accommodation.”
More is less
This September, Accor also launched another initiative drawing on sustainability and corporate responsibility. The Loft, a mobile hotel catering to six guests, also derives from the Innovation Lab, Gervais said.
“The Loft is about how to optimize small square meters,” he said. “Wherever you are, we can provide a room with good functionality across a small space.”
He added the concept remains a mock-up.
“It still is in an early stage but is indicative of the way we are thinking about the problem,” he said.
As for the sustainability of brands, Gervais said while 39 brands might seem like a high number, Accor is not in a race to create 100 brands.
“Twelve (brands) are global, but the others are regional,” Gervais said. “In Europe, we have everything we need right now. (New brands) Hyde and Tribe have covered the gap.”