Accor bolsters soft brands offering with new midscale Handwritten Collection

Adding another brand to its portfolio of more than 40 brands, Accor has introduced the Handwritten Collection, which will plug its midscale gap.

Handwritten Collection joins the luxury Emblems Collection, which Accor launched in November 2021 to complement its upscale MGallery Collection.

Hotel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental will be part of the new Handwritten Collection

The chain said it has secured 12 signings globally, among them three hotels in Asia-Pacific that will open in the next two months as part of the collection, namely, Hotel Shanghai Sheshan Oriental, Wonil Hotel Perth and Hotel Morris Sydney.

Accor expects Handwritten to reach more than 250 hotels by 2030. It said it has over 110 leads globally totalling more than 11,500 rooms.

Handwritten targets franchising and conversions, a high-growth area as it enables owners to attach a brand and chain distribution to assets quickly and with little capital expenditure. Covid-19 has only increased the popularity of collections due to this.

Accor’s global chief development officer, premium, midscale, economy, Camil Yazbeck, said at a media launch on January 19 that there were three times more signings for collections than for classic brands over the last two years.

“Collections will grow a lot more in the future,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of independent hotels worldwide are unbranded. They want to retain their identity and personality but also need the strength of distribution afforded by chains.

As its name suggests, the brand’s emphasis is on providing personal touches, quirkiness and authenticity – just like a handwritten note.

Accor promises that Handwritten hotels will be so distinct that “it’s as if each local hotelier were inviting guests into their charming and stylish homes”.

Alex Schellenberger, Accor’s chief marketing officer, premium, midscale, economy brands, said: “The hotels we will feature in Handwritten Collection are those sought out by travellers who appreciate heartwarming travel experiences and a twist on traditional hospitality, as well as by hoteliers who cherish the unique personality of their properties while desiring the benefits that come with a leading global partner.”

Handwritten has been in the works for more than a year.

Accor’s move into soft brands started with MGallery in 2008. It was not until November 2021, a gap of 13 years, that it launched Emblems, and now Handwritten, joining all hotel chains in the race to sign up more independent hotels for management and/or franchise fees.

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