BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Mercure intends to open one hotel per week around the world over the next five years as it aims to have 1,000 properties by 2018.
The UK is set to be one of the major areas of expansion including London, where the Accor-owned brand already has five properties including its flagship Mercure London Bridge hotel, close to London’s South Bank district.
Mercure currently has 732 properties around the globe with just over 89,000 rooms. The brand, which bills itself as offering a “four-star international” product, operates across the world apart from the US and Canada.
Christophe Alaux, chief operating officer for Mercure, said that the brand was “enjoying tremendous expansion” with 44 hotel openings in 2013 and another 53 properties being added this year.
“We plan to continue this by opening one hotel per week as we look to reach our objective of 1,000 hotels by 2018,” added Alaux. “We plan to grow through franchises and management contracts.”
Mercure, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, currently has 74 properties in the UK – up from 33 hotels in 2011.
The chain has also unveiled new branding and concepts such as a lobby without traditional check-in desks and a business hub which can be used by corporate travellers as a workspace or for meetings.
Jonathan Sheard, senior vice president operations for Mercure Northern Europe, said: “Our ambition – especially in the UK – is to double the size of the network. We want to consolidate in key cities such as London.
“London is a critical location – we have five hotels with the most recent being in Greenwich, which opened last year. We still feel there is capacity to add to the network.
“We also want to focus on Ireland – we don’t have a presence in Ireland yet and we are interested in the two capital cities, Belfast and Dublin.”
The flagship London Bridge property is currently undergoing refurbishment including the prototype for the new Mercure lobby which is an open-plan area without a traditional reception desk – guests are instead met by staff using tablets.
Another initiative from Mercure is Easy Work, which is a business hub being trialled at its Paris Gare du Nord hotel. This is a dedicated space within the property where guests and non-guests pay €20 per half-day to use its facilities including desks, wifi, printers and meeting space, as well as drinks and snacks.
Frederic Fontaine, Mercure’s senior vice president of marketing, said that 80 per cent of people using this service at the Paris property were not hotel guests.
“We see this as an alternative to people trying to find space to work in a coffee shop,” he added. “It’s like a cyber cocoon in a dedicated space of the hotel. We offer service and technology for guests to come and work – they will be met by a host who will offer drinks and snacks. We plan to develop this offering in our business hotels.”