Q&A with Heather McCrory. Accor

Although Heather McCrory was named CEO, North & Central America for Accor in April, she is no stranger to the company and its more than 115 hotels and 28,000 employees in those regions; most recently, she served as Accor’s EVP of operations for those areas, a position that gave her oversight of hotel operations, technology, design and technical services, spa, retail, rooms, food & beverage, and integrations & openings, with a focus on driving operational excellence in key areas of employee and guest engagement, service culture, revenue, GOP margins, and owner relations.

In her new role, she is responsible for strategic oversight of all hotels and employees in North and Central America.

Like many in the industry, McCrory was introduced to hospitality at the property level, before working her way  up the corporate ladder. She started her career in hospitality at Fairmont Banff Springs in the Canadian Rockies. After holding a variety of sales and marketing positions in several Fairmont properties, she joined the corporate ranks as VP, sales and distribution, for the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands.

In 2007, she returned to hotel operations as regional VP for Central Canada and general manager for Fairmont Royal York, a position she held for six years, before returning to the corporate office as SVP, operations, Americas with FRHI.

In her more than 30 years in hospitality, diversity has been an important cause for her. She serves as the executive sponsor for North & Central America for RiiSE, Accor’s international network to promote diversity. In 2018, she chaired the first annual Women on the RiiSE Forum, bringing together more than 60 women in leadership from throughout the region for professional and personal development, inspiration, motivation and networking.

McCrory is also a member of Accor’s executive committee.

Here, she speaks with Hotel Business about her new role and her plans for the company going forward.

You have been in your new position since April. How have your day-to-day responsibilities changed? My day-to-day has changed from driving operational performance to quickly refining our growth strategy to engage and leverage our leaders throughout the region.

Accor’s North & Central America portfolio has increased by 34% in just two years. What are the plans for your continued growth in those areas? We are definitely focusing on lifestyle and luxury in North and Central America and opportunistically with midscale and economy brands.

Will there be a focus on any particular brand going forward? The primary brands we will focus on for development are Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, SO/, Banyan Tree, Orient Express and Tribe. Specifically, in the lifestyle segment, we have a focus on 21c Museum Hotels – MGallery Hotel Collection, 25hours and Mama Shelter and, in partnership with sbe, we are exploring opportunities for SLS, Delano, Mondrian and Hyde.

Will you be focusing on domestic customers or international travelers? Accor’s brands in North and Central America, like a majority of hotel brands, are primarily domestic driven. The new ALL loyalty program will continue to augment this customer base and give us further reach into Accor’s large international customer base.

You have been heavily involved with championing diversity in the hotel industry. How will you use your new role to continue this effort? As we all know from vast amounts of research, having a diverse workplace makes for a stronger organization. However, it is not an easy agenda to realize; it takes dedicated focus from senior leadership to constantly consider the various initiatives and options that continue the conversation and support this commitment. As the CEO for Accor in North and Central America, my role is to unite our team and our efforts, to ensure that we further our diverse workplace agenda.

What was your first job in hospitality? How did that prepare you for the C-suite today? I am proud to say that I started in the laundry and worked my way up through the organization. I believe my roots in hotel operations give me a unique perspective on teamwork, the importance of colleague engagement, and how recognition and deep respect for all levels of the organization is paramount for our success.

You’ve been in the industry for 30-plus years. What is your fondest memory? There have been so many, but my fondest moments are when I see people I have worked with over the years succeeding in their careers, and I can only hope that I have played a small role in their development. 

What do you still hope to accomplish? 21c Museum Hotels, the sbe brands, Fairmont, Sofitel, Novotel and many other unique brands have been brought together under the Accor umbrella, creating a new organization in its very formative stage. This has created a very strong team of hospitality leaders in North America. We will continue to grow both organically and potentially through acquisitions, truly building Accor’s reputation with all stakeholders as a luxury and lifestyle leader in the North American hospitality industry. HB

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