Accor is facing off against tech companies Amadeus and Sabre in sales of software to hotels. Watch this space.
It’s unusual for hotel groups to run tech services companies on the side. It’s even more uncommon for the business to gain traction. Choice Hotel’s SkyTouch division has floundered, and RLC’s tech arm stumbled. But Accor is claiming recent success for its subsidiary D-Edge, which launched five years ago after two acquisitions.
The Paris-based hotel giant said that D-Edge roughly doubled its independent hotel customers during the pandemic, going from serving 6,500 non-Accor hotels in July 2019 to serving more than 12,500 today, said D-Edge CEO Pierre-Charles Grob.
In April, Accor, whose brands include Fairmont, Sofitel, and OneFineStay, hired D-Edge to build for its 5,300 properties a central reservation system — which will let hotel operators manage room inventory and distribute content to resellers. The project will take “two to three years,” Grob said.
Sébastian Bazin, CEO of the French hospitality giant, recently described D-Edge as a “jewel within Accor” when speaking on a call with investment analysts.
The vendor —which offers hotels about 14 services ranging from website development to customer relationship management — is beating rivals Sabre Hospitality Solutions (with its SynXis product) and Amadeus’s hospitality business (which includes what once was called TravelClick) in sales in Europe, Bazin claimed.
D-Edge has been on a hiring spree. Today nearly half its 450 workers are in software development, Grob said.
The company sells products a la carte. It is best known for its central reservation system, connectivity for online distribution, and its studios for producing about 400 custom and templated websites a year. But the product that is growing fastest now might be its customer data management platform, which gives hotels the ability to extract data from various solutions and clean the data up.
“We remove duplicates and errors and let hotels run their sales and marketing activities on a cleaned guest folio,” Grob said.
The company grew its customer count partly because it didn’t lay off sales, account management, and development staff the way some competitors did during the pandemic, Grob said. Demand also rebounded more strongly than expected as many independent hoteliers rethought their digital efforts.
“We’ve signed quite a good number of contracts,” Grob said.
He said no one else has D-Edge’s scale among, independent hoteliers in Europe. The vendor is now building functionality to appeal to the regional chain and enterprise market.
Grob declined to disclose financials. But he did say the business is profitable on an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization basis.
Bazin lets its subsidiary run independently, presumably hoping a third-party such as Cloudbeds, Yanolja, or Shiji, will one day come in to split ownership. Or perhaps a financial firm would want to buy it outright to gain third place worldwide in hotel software sales after Sabre and Amadeus.
“That company [D-Edge] deserves more resources, both human capital and tech capital,” Bazin told investors in February. “But I can tell you, fabulous success for the last five years and enormous opportunities for the next years ahead for D-Edge.”