Industry’s biggest player reveals ambitious plans for Australia

Accor will use its new market dominance to drive regional tourism and take on Airbnb.

The accommodation giant, which completed a $1.2 billion takeover of Mantra last week, will use its international clout and significant loyalty program to push visitors to newly-acquired properties in Queensland, Tasmania, Northern NSW and the Mornington Peninsula.

“One of the attractions of combining Accor and Mantra is that our networks are complementary,” Asia-Pacific CEO Michael Issenberg told the Australian Financial Review.

“Mantra is more represented in regional areas, particularly in Queensland, while we are stronger in the capital cities.”

As Australia’s biggest hotel operator, Accor will also take on Airbnb with the launch of its new private rental business onefinestay.

Listing more than 10,000 boutique homes, penthouse apartments, beachside villas and country houses around the world, onefinestay will initially launch in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland before a planned rapid national rollout.

“Private rentals are part of Accor’s global portfolio and have become a major part of the tourism sector,” Accor Pacific chief Simon McGrath told the AHICE hotel industry conference on Wednesday.

“With the amount of tourism happening worldwide, clients are inclined to not just stay in one sector. They will stay in different hotels at different times of the year for different reasons, so offering the breadth of brand and experience is very important,” he said.

At the same conference last year, Accor’s global head Sebastian Bazin said the company would be changing its own business model to compete with the “formidable concept” of Airbnb.

Accor has acquired a host of complementary digital businesses in its battle with the holiday let giant, and now offers accommodation ranging from hostels to ultra-luxury hotels, as well as incorporated services like food delivery.

Ownership of Mantra gives Accor added firepower in its battle with Airbnb – which lists some 90,000 Australian properties – through Mantra’s strong holiday apartment letting business.

The takeover gives Accor 330 hotels and resorts across Australia and more than 50,000 rooms – around 15 per cent of the Australian market.

Mantra, Breakfree, Peppers and Art Series brands will all be retained within the Accor stable alongside the Novotel, Sofitel, Pullman, Ibis and Mercure brands.

Buying up smaller hotel groups gives Accor the scale to not only compete with Airbnb, but also the bargaining power to reduce the cost of using online travel agencies.

“Scale has its advantages, like being able to negotiate better commission rates with the OTAs,” Mr Issenberg said. 

Accor is looking at bringing brands like Mama Shelters, 25Hours, Banyan Tree, Raffles and Fairmount to the buoyant Australian market.

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