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For US-based travelers, AccorHotels isn’t the first chain that comes to mind. Its Le Club Accor loyalty program has often been overlooked because of the non-US focus of the chain. Within the next few months, Accor wants to change its image. But even with the rebranding and change in benefits, it could still be as irrelevant for a US-based clientele — based on its footprint, alone.
At a press conference in Berlin on Monday, the AccorHotel’s CEO Sébastien Bazin detailed the company’s plans to overhaul its loyalty program. The program, which is called ALL — standing for Accor Live Limitless — was originally announced last month, but with very few details. Now, while there is more information for points aficionados to dig their teeth into, quite a few of the specifics of the program remain at large, and we won’t have firm answers until later this year.
Most notably for ALL and members who have noted the few options for even the most frequent and loyal guests, the new program is taking that feedback to heart. When ALL officially launches at some point in Q4 2019 (an exact date has yet to be set), there will be two new tiers of elite status: Diamond and Black.
The Diamond tier will be the highest achievable level of status, requiring 26,000 Status Points per year. Meanwhile, the higher-than-that Black level of elite status will be an invite-only option, reserved for ALL’s most loyal guests.
When the new ALL program officially launches, the following levels of status will be offered. (Note that Monday’s press conference didn’t detail the exact qualification levels, though the details for the tiers listed below in bold are in line with the current Le Club Accor levels):
- Classic: entry-level membership
- Silver: 2,000 Status Points (10 nights or €800 in eligible expenses)
- Gold: 7,000 Status Points (30 nights or €2,800 in eligible expenses)
- Platinum: 14,000 Status Points (60 nights or €5,600 in eligible expenses)
- Diamond: 26,000 Status Points (TBA)
- Black: Invite only
Exact details on the benefits of each of those levels of status have yet to be announced.
Another major addition that Bazin and his team detailed on Monday included the introduction of Suite Night Upgrades. For long, one of the most notably lacking perks of the program — and aside from the relatively restrictive global footprint, especially in North America — has been the exclusion of suite upgrades. All of the program’s major competitors, which were referenced on numerous occasions on Monday, offer suite upgrades for members who hold high tier elite status. That, however, is changing with ALL.
When the ALL program launches in Q4 2019, members will see the introduction of Suite Night Upgrades. Members will start earning the Suite Night Upgrades once they reach the Platinum threshold (at 14,000 Status Points). Then, for every 4,000 Status Points reached thereafter, you’ll earn additional Suite Night Upgrades.
In addition, as of the Q4 2019 launch of ALL, the program is adding value to its Best Price Guarantee. If you find an eligible booking for less than the advertised price directly through Accor, you’ll get a discount of 25%. Currently, Accor’s discount for a successful Best Price Guarantee is 10%.
Elite Status Qualification
Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the ALL program will be the way members can qualify for elite status. In most hotel loyalty programs, you can earn points through hotel stays and partner purchases, but elite-qualifying activity is typically reserved for overnight stays in the program’s properties. ALL is hoping to change that by allowing members to work towards elite status through non-hotel activity.
Accor is planning to utilize its partner network of brands — from travel to coworking and more — for its loyalty program members. ALL members will be allowed to earn elite-qualifying credits and points and then redeem their points with Accor’s partners. With that, it plans to take the program from not just a travel-based one, where you need to travel and sleep in a hotel in order to maximize, but a lifestyle one where you can earn benefits from your daily life — whether you’re at home or on the road.
Accor’s Chief Brand Officer Steven Taylor said that members will still be able to redeem their points for hotel stays and can expect an award chart when the program rolls out. However, the way that you can earn elite-qualifying credits is new and relatively unheard of in the hotel loyalty space.
“The ambition for loyalty goes further than most of our global competitors,” Taylor said. “Because we’re now seeking to add value not just to travel, but to engage consumers in daily life.”
Of course, it remains to be seen exactly how this will work, and Accor says that it’ll announce complete details once the program is fully announced in Q4 2019. The program will be live in 2020, including the two new levels of elite status noted above.
Aligned with Accor’s effort to become more of a mass-appeal program rather than a standard hotel loyalty program, it’s introducing ways for members to utilize their points and elite status for lifestyle experiences beyond stays at a hotel. TPG reported in February that Accor had teamed with AEG and IMG for experiences in the entertainment and dining sectors, respectively, and now we know that those will include unique members-only experiences for which ALL members can redeem points, including event tickets, behind-the-scenes access and more.
Similarly, ALL is becoming a partner of the French football (soccer) team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Beginning July 2019, fans will see the ALL branding on the front of players’ jerseys. To further emphasize that the program is more than just for hotel stays, members will be able to redeem their points for PSG experiences, such as tickets to matches, meet-and-greets with players and more.
Interestingly, Bazin and his team alluded to the fact — though gave very few details — that Accor would be unveiling a cobranded credit card. The hotel already has a cobranded card in Indonesia, and it hopes to expand that offering to a more global audience. Taylor said that its cobranded credit card initiatives are a global strategy, which could include a US version.
The over-arching theme of Monday’s press conference had to do with Accor’s efforts to be more than a hotel loyalty program. Bazin even said: “ALL is not a new loyalty program, but a new lifestyle loyalty program.”
It wants to take advantage of its ecosystem of partnerships in order to make that happen. In addition to the AEG, IMG and Paris Saint-Germain partnerships, ALL is also emphasizing its partners like airlines (such as Qatar, Qantas and United), as well as coworking spaces, concierge services and car rental agencies. The program believes that with a multitude of partners across all facets of life, members will be more likely to take part in the loyalty scheme.
For example, if you travel in a ridesharing service from home to airport with which ALL partners, you’d be able to earn ALL elite status credits. Then, if you take clients out to dinner at an Accor restaurant, that spend will count toward your status earning. And, if you’re on holiday and trying out an electric scooter that partners with ALL, you’ll be earning elite status credits even if you never rest your head no an Accor hotel pillow.
This is a grand vision, and until we know additional details on how these partnerships will work, it’s unclear how successful it will be.
A Long Way to Go
Accor and its new ALL program are starting at a disadvantage — and its executives know that. Bazin noted that Le Club Accor severely lags behind its American competition when it comes to loyalty. More specifically, he mentioned some breathtaking statistics along these lines. Of all bookings made with Marriott, 60% have Marriott Bonvoy numbers attached to them. Similarly, 50% of bookings make with Hilton have Honors numbers, as do 45% of InterContinental Hotels Group bookings. This demonstrates a clear loyalty among those programs’ respective members.
Currently, just 30% of Accor bookings have a Le Club Accor number attached — half of what Marriott can say.
The program, as is, doesn’t resonate with guests at a level that Accor expects. However, its leadership believes that offering more of a lifestyle program with ALL can bypass that hump. It has a goal to get that number to 40% — but not until 2022.
And with the changes to the program coming, US-based travelers might still find themselves bypassing ALL as a first option, since Accor’s long-term growth strategy doesn’t include massive expansion in the United States. Accor is looking to take advantage of booming markets, with 49% of its most recent development in the Asia/South Pacific region. Other top markets for the chain include the Middle East and Africa (17%) as well as Europe (16%). Just 10% of its expansion comes by the way of the NCAC region (North and Central American and the Caribbean).
All that being said, for existing Le Club Accor members who are loyal to the program, the ALL program could prove to be more rewarding than its predecessor from the initial sound of it. You’ll have two additional tiers of elite status to explore, new ways to earn and redeem points, as well as outside-hotel experiences and ways to earn elite status. We’ll have to wait to see, however, exactly if the terms and conditions live up to the hype.
Featured photo of the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii by Jill Holtsinger / The Points Guy.
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