Last week I wrote about the launch of Spark, Hilton’s latest hotel brand. That was last week, of course.
This week it is Accor’s turn to launch another new hotel brand – the 44th in the Accor Live Limitless portfolio. Where will it end?!
The new Accor brand is called ‘Handwritten Collection’.
What is Handwritten Collection?
Handwritten Collection will be, as the name suggests, another ‘collections’ brand.
This means that Accor hopes to sign up independent hotels which wish to remain independent but see the value in being part of a marketing ‘system’. In return for appearing on the Accor website, hotels agree to award Accor Live Limitless points on stays and to recognise Accor elite benefits.
If this model sounds familiar, it is the same as Radisson Individuals, Hilton’s Curio, Marriott’s Autograph, IHG’s Vignette, Hyatt’s The Unbound Collection etc etc.
This is actually Accor’s THIRD collections brand. It already has MGallery Hotel Collection (‘upper upscale’) and the luxury Emblems Collection. Handwritten Collection is aimed at smaller independent properties.
Whilst it will be possible for new-build hotels to join Handwritten Collection, 80% of properties are expected to be conversions of existing hotels.
As Accor says:
Handwritten Collection was created in 2023 to bring together hotels with a unique personality, intimately reflecting the character and warmth of the people who love and look after them.
Believing hotels are where genuine connections are made and authentic travel experiences are enriched, the hoteliers of Handwritten Collection invite travellers to experience a twist on traditional hospitality without turning it on its head.
Whether they’ve arrived from a thousand miles away or for their staycation, guests are offered a balance between quirk and charm, giving each the so-good satisfaction of having found a gem. Like a handwritten note, hosts’ singular touches are subtly felt at select moments throughout. From a welcome that cascades into conversation, to freshly baked treats that have guests sneaking seconds into their pockets.
No two hotels or stays are the same, and that’s how they like it. You could even say it’s their signature ….
The opening pipeline is a little thin
Accor talks of having 250 properties in Handwritten Collection by 2030.
The press release says that it is in ‘negotiations’ with 110 hotels about joining, but who knows what percentage will eventually sign?
Only 12 hotels have committed so far. Here are the hotels which Accor shared yesterday:
- Hotel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental, Shanghai (joins immediately – image above – is being rebranded from a Softel)
- Le Saint Gervais Hotel & Spa, Saint Gervais, France (joins immediately)
- Wonil Hotel Perth (joins February)
- Hotel Morris, Sydney (joins February)
- Le Splendid Hotel Lac d’Annecy, Annecy, France (joins April)
- Hotel Les Capitouls Toulouse Centre, France (joins May)
- Oru Hub Hotel, Tallinn (joins May)
Given the cities on this list, it’s unlikely that the majority of HfP readers will have the opportunity to try a Handwritten hotel in the near future. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t pull out all the stops to secure properties in key gateway cities such as London and Paris for the launch.
I like collection brands but ….
In general, I’ve been impressed by many of the luxury hotels I have stayed at which have joined the various collection brands. In particular, Marriott’s Autograph Collection and Hilton’s Curio Collection have succeeded in attracting some great properties with more flair than you would usually find elsewhere in the chain. I listed The University Arms in Cambridge (Autograph) as one of my ‘top stays of 2022’.
My gut feeling is that collection brands are less successful in the mid-market, which is where Handwritten Collection is focussed. The quality of hotels is simply too variable, and at the 3-star level you can’t even be sure of basics such as a lift.
Accor also doesn’t bring much to the party. No-one gets free breakfast with Accor on weekdays (a Diamond will get it at weekends) and I doubt any Handwritten Collection hotels will have lounges you could now access via status. Hotels managed by Accor are generally good at upgrading elite members, even at Gold level, but will independent hotels be as forthcoming?
Even at the luxury level, ‘collections’ hotels across all chains seem to have a fairly high level of churn. After all, quitting the brand is easy when the hotel never changed its trading name in the first place. Will the hotels that sign up find the fees they will pay to Accor justify the extra business it drives? We will see.
Accor Live Limitless update – March 2024:
Earn bonus Accor points: Accor is not currently running a global promotion
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