Accor Plans to Expand in 2008

The hotel sector has seen steady growth in 2007 and demand appears to be growing in major markets unabated. CPN senior editor Eugene Gilligan met with Poirot to discuss Accor’s plans for 2008. CPNHospitality: Accor North America opened 37 hotels in the economy lodging sector, 36 Motel 6 properties, and one Studio 6. Please talk about the locations you chose to open hotels, and why? Poirot: We have Motel 6s all over the U.S. and Canada. With more than 950 locations, we do have many areas with a dense concentration of our motels. California has 184, yet we still work to fill the gaps whether in primary urban markets or secondary markets. And we have many rural Motel 6s along highways that do well. There are still many locations to place Motel 6s and Studio 6s; we work with our franchisees to find them the locations that will produce for them. Even though we’re a nationwide brand, our expansion continues to be nationwide as we try to complement the network in primary urban markets and secondary markets. CPNHospitality: What is the number of Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties that you want to open in the near term, and are there any cities or regions that you are going to be focusing on? Poirot: Overall, we expect to open 50 to 60 properties in 2008 with a focus on Studio 6. We only have 47 locations at this point, so the potential for growth is significant. Corporately we are trying to buy properties in 2008. We are focusing on high, barrier-to-entry markets such as California and the East Coast, as well as areas with high population growth such as Texas and Florida. We are also working on bringing Motel 6 to Mexico, starting with the border cities. Our projected openings for 2008 including corporate and franchise development. CPNHospitality: Do you plan any improvements or enhancements to these brands in 2008. If so, what are they? Poirot: We are going to introduce a new new Motel 6 prototype this year. We also will implement Wi-Fi access for Motel 6 locations coast-to-coast CPNHospitality: Please talk about what your plans are for North American expansion of your Sofitel brand? Poirot: Sofitel will expand exclusively into international gateway cities in the U.S., specifically, Boston, Toronto, Mexico City and downtown San Francisco.