Accor’s economy brand Ibis is making a big push to meet guests’ demands for buzzing entertainment, hip lobbies and cutting-edge guestroom design with the launch of three room prototypes and a music and arts program.
BERLIN—The Ibis brand is 45 years old, but with fresh new design and music and arts concepts in place Accor executives believe the economy option will be seen as the youngest, hippest, most vital upstart in their locations.
Philip Lassman, VP of business development, Northern Europe, Accor, said Ibis hotels will become hubs of arts and music under a new program that started on 29 March.
“We are resetting the standards for economy hotels, and music and arts will be at the center of that change,” Lassman said.
The French hotel brand has partnered with some entertainment heavy hitters to make that happen, Lassman said—Sony Music United Kingdom’s 4th Floor Creative Group, online music portal Spotify and Hungarian Sziget music festival.
Music is Ibis’ focus to gain more market share in an increasing busy economy and budget landscape where lobbies and other public spaces need to be buzzing all the time, not just with diversions but also with design.
“We do not like to see empty square meters, and that also includes having pioneering F&B. We want locals. We need to be vibrant,” Lassman said.
One part of the musical idea, Lassman said, is to have 44 “battle of the bands”-type contests with 90 emerging bands across 17 countries, with a final round at the Hungarian festival to elect a winner awarded time with Sony Music scouts and executives. Sziget is held every August on an island in the River Danube in the norther section of capital Budapest, where Ibis has seven properties.
Other Ibis hotels will regularly stage bands and artists, and the brand will work with other festivals, including the U.K.’s Dot to Dot and Switzerland’s famous Montreux. It also has sponsored London’s equally famous Roundhouse venue, which has been hosting bands since 1964, including Jimi Hendrix, The Clash and one of the only two U.K. performances by The Doors.
Accor also recently announced an extended partnership with entertainment company AEG that through Accor’s newly revamped loyalty program, All, allows members to have access to approximately 150 venues and 22,000 annual events, some of which take place in Paris’ AccorHotels Arena.
Ibis’ rooms are going through some changes, too.
A different type of competition was held last year, in which a shortlist of design companies was whittled down to three, each one of which has designed a new Ibis room prototype, said Arun Rana, Accor’s design manager, Northern Europe.
Rana said the intention is for one or more of the designs to be incorporated into all Ibis’ 1,174 hotels by the end of 2022.
Currently there are 61 Ibis hotels in the U.K., and if its sub brands of Ibis Styles and Ibis Budget are added to that number, the total is more than 120.
The design competition was launched by the brand in three markets, Europe, Asia and South America, with the winning designs named Agora, Plaza and Square. Owners can chose the design they like the most, the idea promoting what Lassman calls “flexibility within a standardized product.”
Design changes include practical additions such as strips that allow electrical outlets to be moved across one side of a room and more fun additions such as hot-water bottles and yoga mats.
Agora is the creation of Graz, Austria-based Innocad Architecture and already is in the Ibis Barcelona Plaza Glòries. São Paolo design firm FGMF came up with Plaza, which already is visible in two hotels in Brazil’s largest city, the Ibis São Paolo Morumbi and Ibis São Paolo Expo, while Bangkok’s Soda studio came up with Square.
Lassman said today’s economy sector guest now requires a level of sharp, superior design, while investors and asset-light brands, which now includes Accor, require superior investment returns and construction-cost savings.
“Franchises are very personal from an owner’s perspective, and they want to be able to say they have chosen the right product,” Lassman said.
He added that Accor still is going through a value-engineering process in regards to the designs.
“It is not a different process to that of (furniture, fixtures and equipment),” Lassman said, who added all designs will measure 16.5 square meters (178 square feet) and that Agora has been designed to be modular.