Accor, a world leader in the hotel industry of the hotel industry, saw a drop in its turnover of 55% in 2020 but was able to have sufficient cash to withstand the shock in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Above all, thanks to design and its many experiments, Accor anticipates societal upheavals and changes models with agility. Meeting with Damien Perrot, design director for the group.
Damien Perrot, global senior vice-president of design for the hotelier for six years, is at the forefront of detecting weak signals and analyzing major trends. “Everything that will allow us to live fifteen minutes from home will become more and more important. The beginnings were underway, but the Covid-19 accelerated everything, explains the designer. In 30 years, there will be a 60% increase in the world’s urban population and square meters are not expandable. Working only on mobility is not enough, so we have to recreate ecosystems and find ways to live in smaller spaces. Why not, for example, not go to the hotel to cook? It will also house locals. We are only at the dawn of the development of new services. Coworking is just the start.“
Proximity: the mobile hotel
“When we go to a hotel, it is not for the hotel but to sleep in a place close to the purpose of the trip: a concert, a sporting event… We go there to be able to live a passion. Our goal is to magnify this moment. “
Mostly located in the city center, hotels are often placed far from events that take place on the outskirts or in the middle of nature. The ephemeral hotel, built from mobile rooms, is a first solution.
A stone’s throw from the 24 Hours of Le Mans track, at the heart of the Arles Photographic Meetings, at the Bordeaux Architecture Biennale or on the Avoriaz tracks … Flying Nest, designed by Ora-Ïto in 2018 and designed from a combination of containers (one for a room), can be set up anywhere in a week and for a limited time. ” Guests who have the option of staying at a Raffles hotel can also sleep well in 12 m 2 comfortable and simply furnished if they can benefit from a special experience ”, underlines Damien Perrot. The singularity of the moment, the ephemeral side also adds to the personalization. On the same subject of passion, customers who are football fans could also benefit, during an international meeting, from a welcome by Didier Deschamps in a night + meeting package that Accor is also developing in its more traditional hotels.
Continuing with a less upscale variation of this model, innovation lab of the group has been experimenting since 2019 Le Loft, 30 m 2 living space for six people with terrace, kitchen and bathroom, autonomous in water and electricity for three days and easily movable. This mobile home was designed in collaboration with the group’s design teams as well as externally with Gruau, a French vehicle conversion expert, the Penson studio. Each time, in terms of furniture and structure, it is a question of making it light, practical and comfortable.
With the revival of motorhome travel, and rather than renting vans, Accor offers road trips, either routes defined in advance with special reception in the hotels of the group, or buttler, in more surprising places. The idea is to always offer a hotel service but also to increase the number of places.
Tested in 2018 and designed by the Frenchman Ora Ito, Flying Nest is a mobile and modular hotel that can be quickly set up near sporting and cultural events to allow its residents to be as close as possible to the action with all the necessary comfort.
The hotel open to the city
“I had a fantasy for a long time: why not go to a hotel in the city we live in? “
Until now, hotels were focused on the traveler, his need to find like the will to offer him the same standards everywhere in the world – so he had his bearings, knew what to expect (which also had the advantage of reducing the hotelier’s costs). The goal was rather to isolate it from the rest of the city with tinted windows, living spaces on an inner courtyard, between the cocoon and the protective inter-self. The emergence of urban tourism and Airbnb – which allowed, at the beginning, to meet locals by staying at home – has changed the relationship with travel: discovering countries through cities, outside the usual tourist circuits, living like the locals. local city dwellers is emerging as a sustainable trend.
In addition, the “flygskam” movement, the shame of taking the plane in the face of the climate emergency, born in 2018 in Sweden, augurs a drop in air traffic, amplified by the Covid-19 crisis and the proliferation of tools of videoconferencing which make it possible to limit business travel by leapfrogging. Result: hoteliers must find new customers to fill their rooms and the neighborhood is undoubtedly its best asset. The strategy initiated in 2008 by the Mama Shelter hotels (Accor took a third of the capital in 2014) located in working-class neighborhoods and whose restaurants and bars frequented by local customers generate half of their turnover will serve as a model for many. hoteliers. DJ evening, film screenings but also rooftops which offer another panorama of the city … The activities satisfy both travelers and residents of the neighborhood.
With the Jo & Joe brand, the group responds more precisely to the desires of the younger generations: a hotel also frequented by the local population in its common areas thanks to its entertainment and rooms that can accommodate groups of friends.
Opening up to the city can also be materialized in a symbolic and physically visible way: by modifying the facades of an Ibis in Brazil, with its furniture that crosses the facade, or in Barcelona, with a sidewalk that penetrates inside. of the hotel.
Multiple proximity: traveler close by and worker abroad
“You don’t have to travel 600 kilometers to go on vacation. “
A brief stay at the Molitor hotel in Paris for a Parisian who wants to take full advantage of the swimming pool, two days at the Paradiso cinema-hotel (designed by MK2, unrelated to Accor) to watch films galore in her room and on big screen… The micro-adventure can take all the forms that still have to be imagined, diving into a particular universe with the decoration to match or simply discovering a neighborhood “as if you lived there”.
“Conversely, if we travel 600 kilometers, it will be to stay longer, to work while discovering the country. “
Long-stay residences in the hotel industry increased by 20% in 2020 and could grow further. “We could discover China for two months by combining weeks of vacation and work, underlines Damien Perrot. This would reduce its carbon footprint and get to know a country more in depth. “
Flexibility and modularity: hybrid spaces and furniture
“I don’t believe in the transformation of spaces but rather in a different use depending on the moment, by modifying the atmosphere. I am more in favor of a primary function and a secondary function. “
Just as the differences fade between travelers and locals, as the boundaries between the hotel facade and the urban layout blur, the spaces of the hotel are hybridized and can change from time to time. of the day.
With the laptop or tablet, it has become possible to work in any place and in all positions (at the table, in an armchair, lying down). “In hotels, work doesn’t have to be a punishment. I don’t want a morbid room, notes Damien Perrot. We stopped creating spaces by function to promote the atmosphere: I can be at the bar to finish sending emails, for example. “ Since on a table it is possible to work, to play, to eat as well as to sign a contract, “It may be enough to change the light or the comfort of a chair to meet a new use , continues the design director. What matters are the services offered: good quality connection, choice between cozy and more convivial spaces… it’s up to everyone to find their favorite place ” .
The importance of design and modifications in furniture
“The clinical side of objects, I don’t believe it. It is their life cycle that will become ever more important. “ The advantage in the hotel industry is that, a priori, cleaning is permanent and has only been reinforced with the pandemic. If the harmlessness of objects remains necessary, it should not be visible. Reassurance also involves familiarity, comfort and, henceforth, the least possible carbon production over a life cycle. “Sustainable development is the key . We need less material, tracing, reuse of waste… We have just put in place a tool to choose the equipment and furniture that takes these elements into account. We favor the approach of the long-term impact of the equipment with the people we work with than the installation of solar panels. We want to reduce the carbon footprint without going against experience. “
Regarding the shape of the furniture used, Damien Perrot believes that “We must forget everything we have learned, make a reset to reinvent certain pieces of furniture and adapt their ergonomics to laptops and tablets. We must review the proposals while finding environmental solutions ”.
And for that, nothing like the designers: “We have to stop using design thinking as a method and work directly with designers, explains the vice-president. I was impressed to hear the president of Thales say that we should stop hiring more engineers and hire designers who help create more functional tools. They have creativity and are transversal. I believe the industry is aware of this, and it is a good sign for the future. “
This article is part of a special dossier “Rethinking spaces in the age of new nomadisms”, produced in partnership with the mission le FRENCH DESIGN 2059 of FRENCH DESIGN by VIA . To find in the part Lab of Intramuros.fr and in the latest issue of Intramural .