Accor aims for subscriber bias 

We’re awful at being loyal, we are. We can just about manage it with family members – although there are some caveats around mentions in blogs, advice etc – but it’s up for grabs and easily lost everywhere else.

When considering the capitalism/loyalty Venn diagram, it pays – actually – to remember why we’re all here. Not on this earth, but at our desks. It’s money. There are other side benefits: lovely colleagues, international travel, free pens. But very few of us would work without payment and our consumer lives are similarly shallow. So if you want more friends in capitalism, there must be a cash reward. 

Enter Accor, which freaked the markets out a while back when it relaunched its loyalty programme with €225m investment, and which is now rebranding its subscription card programme, with two cards: one aimed at its upscale division and one focused on economy. Regular viewers will recall that Accor is dividing itself along these lines and won’t it be easier to sell one off if there’s less loyalty untangling to be done?

Anyway, the aim is the same as it was in 2019 – to drive more people to use and then remain in its loyalty programme.

And for anyone wondering what the subscription card is, think Costco card. You pay to access discounts although the similarity it ends there – Accor will not think highly of you if you end your stay by loading up the car with 48 toilet rolls. 

This is not the subscription model CitizenM excited everyone with. Accor has had these cards for a while, but not globally. This latest tweak might not offer monthly access to a certain number of rooms like CitizenM, but it pushes those Costco bargain-hunting buttons which engender cash-based loyalty. If you use rooms regularly enough and if the discount is worth the spend when you look at all the other routes to discounted rooms. 

Skift has reported that All Plus Voyageur delivers a 20% discount at 10 of Accor’s luxury and premium hotel brands and a 15% discount in nine of its midscale and economy brands. Regional variance applies to the cost, so, for example, it’s €199/year in France. To read further detail and thoughts, read the story here. 

In this expansion, the group said that in addition to earning reward points, guests also enjoy the best fixed discount available all year long and earn status points enabling them to move up their status tiers, and an elite status. Since both cards were part of the loyalty programme, the points would all gather there to be spent on rooms and coffees and whatnot.

It said: “Ultimately, these subscription cards create a virtuous circle for both our guests and hotels: the more our guests spend in our ALL ecosystem, the more points, status, discounts and exclusive benefits they gain to live more limitless experiences. At the same time, hotels then have more loyal and engaged guests who generate more revenue and provide more knowledge and opportunities to build stronger relationships.”

The group has been pulling all levers to drive the ALL loyalty programme, including gazing with lust at Marriott’s income from credit cards. In 2021 it launched a payment card in partnership with BNP Paribas and Visa, which once again made much of the word ‘ecosystem’. 

At the group’s most-recent results, chairman & CEO Sébastien Bazin acknowledged that there was work to do. He told analysts: “It’s doing very well in the Middle East. It’s doing well in Australia. It’s not doing as good as we expected in Europe, and we need to tackle it better in terms of attractiveness, in terms of population. We need to make a bit of push and a greater push.” 

CFO & deputy CEO Jean-Jacques Morin added: “I think the fundamental issue that we’ve got [is that] in the US, everybody uses credit cards and everybody owns five credit cards. In France there are people who don’t even have a credit card.”

This has indeed worked out in Marriott’s favour. For the fourth quarter, the company said that non-revpar-related franchise fees had risen 16% year-over-year to $215m, driven largely by its co-branded credit card fees.

Hotel loyalty programmes are easily criticised  – by us, easily – for being too complicated. We are a long way from the coffee house stamp card. But hotels want to be a long way from just providing rooms. They want to be your, well, ALL and Accor has tried to encourage us to do that from every angle possible as part of its augmented strategy. 

And what happens with complicated programmes? A lot of incremental efforts which it is hoped will have an impact. You can’t just be Marriott and have the biggest estate and the biggest domestic credit card audience. Further down the ladder requires more steps to reach the top. 

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