Decision-making centers on well-being for AccorHotels

PARIS—AccorHotels recently appointed Emlyn Brown to VP, well-being for AccorHotels’ luxury & upper-upscale brands. Brown joined the Accor team from Resense Spas S.A, where he was global design director, focusing on corporate strategies, wellness concepts and design services. With more than 20 years of international industry experience, Brown has also spent time at GOGO Hospitality and Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. In the new role, Brown plans to use his international expertise to foster both innovative and individualized wellness experiences for guests. Here, he speaks with Hotel Business about his strategy and well-being in the industry at large.

What is your first order of business in the new role? Success starts with our approach to well-being and the guiding principles that we apply to this very important transversal role. For us, as a team, our first priority was to look at our key areas of focus: people, product, partners and programs.

We are focusing on our talent and what they need to excel and how we can strengthen succession; how we are developing an exceptional product through design and technical support; the programs that we need to create or promote within each brand to deliver a holistic well-being experience; and which partners can support us most effectively to achieve our goals.

Personally, I want to ensure that we actively listen, use data hyper-effectively and continually embrace feedback from guests, our regions, operators and owners to devise an applicable strategic approach. We are adopting a strong process-driven system that can maximize our support and look to innovate and constantly develop our wellness platforms.

What are some of your plans for 2019? What will be your global strategy? The truest measure of success is ensuring ideas impact the guest experience positively and consistently. We have a discernible focus on well-being within AccorHotels’ luxury brands, and this will continue to accelerate in
2019 with a simple vision to ensure our guests are more comfortable, happy and healthy.

With a large number of luxury brands within our portfolio, it is vital that we create ideas that are appropriate for the guest profile of each brand, deliver a viable return and can be executed exceptionally and globally.

Our team of brand leaders, operators and well-being colleagues have worked hard to place guest well-being at the center of the decision-making process for our luxury brands. We as a team direct, prescribe and describe our company’s global strategy in the pivotal area of well-being, enhancing AccorHotels’ luxury wellness offering through transformative guest experiences.

Why Accor? What makes the brands distinct in terms of well-being? AccorHotels has a dedicated well-being team that addresses the wellness needs of our guests across all of our luxury and premium hospitality brands. Our mandate is to support and elevate the wellness experience, focusing on the health, happiness and vitality of our guests—our primary well-being goal. Our approach has been to clearly define where we can have the maximum benefit and impact on our guests’ well-being and focus on these key elements.

AccorHotels has five key well-being pillars—nutrition, design, movement, spa and mindfulness—across our luxury brands that are adapted and adopted depending on guest preference, demographic, brand positioning, culture and location. This tailored approach defines our qualitative approach to the wellness experience.

What makes well-being interesting in the hospitality space specifically? Wellness is the dominant consumer value, and a way in which we can truly touch the heart and spirit of our guests in a unique way. It is very personal, and everyone has his or her own standards of self-care and self-comfort, giving leaders in hospitality the opportunity for innovation and personalization.

Why do you think well-being is such a hot topic in hospitality right now? What are guests expecting? The search for wellness or well-being is not new; if we look back through history to Roman Bathing, Hammam, Traditional Chinese Medicine & Ancient Ayurveda principles—it is a global movement that has evolved over the last 2,000 years.

It has become more of a “hot topic” as new ideas are being launched every day, but I believe our guests’ desires have remained relatively constant. They are looking to be fit, both physically and emotionally; to better understand nutrition and clean eating; and to eliminate stress either through daily practice or more transformative vacations for a chance to disconnect.

It is important that we, as a company, do not become overly focused on fads or here today/gone tomorrow ideas, but always focus on the larger movements and areas of growth that are profoundly influencing our guests and their search for well-being solutions.

How have you seen well-being change the travel industry as a whole? The way people travel, move about the world and organize their lives is constantly evolving. As a result, our design, services and amenities must be flexible to reflect these ever-changing interests. For example, our guests are more inclined than ever to keep up their usual fitness and health routines on the road, so we offer appealing fitness classes, workout gear delivered in-room, or video-on-demand classes coupled with nourishing bespoke menus.

What experiences in your past positions will help guide and inform decisions you make with Accor? Working as a wellness consultant exposed me to a variety of projects in terms of scale, brand and ownership, and having lived and worked in the Middle East, Asia and China gave me a greater cultural understanding to effectively support our regions and disciplines globally.

I was fortunate to benefit from exceptional mentors and senior leadership in my previous roles and will naturally use the lessons I learned and apply them to this new and exciting challenge.

What challenges do you expect to arise? How do you plan to overcome those? The evolution of the luxury industry is complex because the highest end of the spectrum is unaffected by economic cycles. There will always be people who love to travel the world in
a luxurious style. 

How they interpret luxury, however, is subject to trends and, largely, demographics. By far, the leading challenge facing us now is how we create more individualized experiences for guests to maintain and improve their health and well-being while traveling. There is so much room for growth and innovation in this area. HB

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