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Category winner: AccorHotels and the Digital
Transformation: Enriching Experiences through Content
Strategies along the Customer Journey

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This case won the Marketing category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2018.
The case
Olivier Arnoux

Who – the protagonist

Olivier Arnoux, former SVP Customer Experience and Satisfaction, AccorHotels (Accor).


Accor is an international hotel chain serving all three major market segments; luxury and upscale, midscale and economy/budget.



Faced with a new competitive landscape, hotel chains like Accor needed to rethink their approach to online presence and e-reputation. Arnoux worked on how Accor could tackle this challenge from design to implementation and integrate new cutting-edge processes in their current marketing efforts and organisation.


It was September 2015 once Arnoux had returned from a worldwide business trip to discuss the types of digital challenges faced by different geographies and markets. He had just two weeks before his meeting with the board.


Accor’s first hotel opened in Lille, France, in 1967. The group now boasts 3,900 hotels across 17 international brands in 92 countries.

accorKey quote

“We’re going through an industry mutation – it’s not only a transformation, it’s a mutation.” Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin.

What next?

Faced with the mutation of the hoteling industry, Arnoux’s first task involved carefully analysing the nature of the changes and challenges of the hospitality industry.

Next would be to design Accor’s response: how could Accor leverage technology and collect relevant information on a customer’s stay, attract customers to its website and use online information to provide a more customised, personalised service to customers?

To address these ambitious challenges, Accor needed not only to integrate digital into its marketing activities, such as new KPIs and promotion, but also rethink its entire marketing organisation, and embed digital tools at its heart. 

Interested in finding out more?

Download the case and teaching note

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AccorHotels and the Digital Transformation: Enriching Experiences through Content Strategies along the Customer Journey
Ref 516-0167-1
Teaching note
Ref 516-0167-8

The authors

authorsDavid Dubois, Inyoung Chae, Joerg Niessing and Jean Wee

The quartet talk about students drawing on their personal experiences when discussing this case, and the surprises it causes.

Making the case for marketing

Making the case for marketing

David said: “This case works very well in the classroom because it involves a relevant business challenge in today’s agile world that both speaks well to the audience and is at the heart of the company’s digital transformation.

“We paid a lot of attention to offer new frameworks to help students link strategy (abstract) with execution and implementation (concrete). Business successes involve excellence on both fronts and great marketing cases are typically very good at articulating the link between them.

“This case is also unique because it helps educators highlight how the digital revolution implies a cross-functional response to new marketing problems.

“That is, what did the digital challenges regarding increasingly digitally savvy travellers mean for marketing, operations, HR? What co-ordination was needed, what degree of cross functionality?

“Finally, what makes this case very special is it tackles the central question marketers have to tackle in a digital world – how to become a “master of content” – and not only highlights what new digital skills Accor need to excel at, but also how the marketing function at Accor becomes increasingly embedded in the entire organisation. “ 

Speaking from personal experience

Inyoung commented: “Whether MBAs or executive students are all relating to their own experience, the topic covered – traveling business – is something that the audience has experienced. Everyone has experienced traveling once as well as the growing importance of new actors – from Airbnb to Booking.com.

“We leverage these experiences in class and ask students to take the viewpoint of the incumbent: what should Accor do?

“Starting from a problem that everybody knows helps us to adopt a common lens: major changes in online travel customer behaviour.”

Element of surprise

Joerg added: “Students aren’t only surprised that Booking.com is spending more than Accor, but also by the magnitude of differences: with such a big gap in spending, what should Accor’s reaction be?

“It prompts them to follow alternative routes.”

Attention to detail

Jean said: “In our opinion a teaching note should be as detailed as possible.

“It is important that faculty understand the objectives of the case very well but even more important is the solution and the strategy on how the case should be taught. If this is not clear faculty will most likely not adopt the case. This is why we also think that company buy-in, that provides important additional information and insights, is critical.

“We have thought deeply about the classroom experience, and in the teaching note offer ideas for exercises, provide additional data and documents for group exercises, so that the case can be taught in a short format (one hour) but also in executive education for as long as a full day (eight hours).”

Global reachGlobal reach

David Concluded: “Accor is a company with global reach. Understanding how to leverage digital globally, but adapt locally to use and specificities of content, is both a novel and very common challenge that many companies face.”

About the authors

David Dubois is Associate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD.
e david.dubois@insead.edu
tw @d1dubois

Inyoung Chae was a Doctoral Student at INSEAD when writing the winning case. She is now Assistant Professor of Marketing at Goizueta Business School.
e inyoung.chae@emory.edu

Joerg Niessing is an Affiliate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD.
e joerg.niessing@insead.edu
tw @JoergNiessing

Jean Wee is a Research Associate at INSEAD.
e jean.wee@insead.edu


View all the 2018 winners