In March 2020, when the spread of the coronavirus became a global issue, the world was suddenly put on hold. Borders were closed, public life was shut down, and many companies had to either suspend their activities or send their staff into remote work.

One industry that was, and still is, particularly affected by the COVID crisis is the Hospitality and Tourism industry.

Accor Group, one of the world’s largest hospitality management companies and the sixth-largest hotel network worldwide, had to coordinate the suspension of 3,500 hotels around the globe and used Taskworld to administer the suspension and subsequent reopening of their hotels efficiently.

We spoke with Vincent Ozanne, Director Hotel Openings India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey at Accor, about how the hospitality group had to pivot their Taskworld use case from opening hotels to now using the tool to temporarily suspending them from operation.

The “Zero Hour” - suspending hotel operation in record time

When the world collectively went into lockdown, Accor had to act fast. They needed to find a way to temporarily close their hotels safely, quickly, and in an organized manner whilst keeping an overview of the status of over 5,100 hotels worldwide.

Geoffray Maugin, SVP Global Guest Experience & Business Performance (Luxury Brands) at Accor proposed to use Taskworld to monitor the suspension of their properties after it had been used successfully in multiple regions within the Accor Group to open hotels for the last few years.

Vincent recalls the challenges during the beginning of the pandemic:

“If we go back in time, 3,500 hotels were suspended out of 5,100. That is around 70% of our network. In a very short period of time, almost overnight, we had to suspend the activities for all of those hotels globally. As you can imagine, not only we, but I think no one was ready to manage that kind of event.”

Within two weeks, the team created a dedicated workspace in Taskworld to monitor which of the hotels were to temporarily suspend operation or remain open for business. This meant creating over 5,000 tasks with individual assignees and followers to reflect all properties in Accor’s portfolio.

This data was then connected to Google Data Studio to create a dashboard that would give the Executive Committee visibility over the hotel network’s status.

While every region could decide for themselves whether they would like to roll out the suspension of their properties in Taskworld or offline, it became mandatory for everyone to report on the hotel’s status through the tool.

Naturally, Accor’s IMEA region (India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey) utilized Taskworld to coordinate the suspension in their area after using it for hotel openings previously.

By using Taskworld’s guest feature, which lets you collaborate with external stakeholders such as vendors, freelancers, and others directly on the platform without giving them access to company internal data, Vincent invited all General Managers of their IMEA hotels to Taskworld:

“We involved the General Managers directly in this global monitoring by inviting all of them as guest users so that they would see only their own hotels and would not alter any information of their colleagues. The information of a hotel’s status sits with them, so it made sense to ask them directly to update their information through Taskworld, instead of asking them by email and then reporting it back into the tool.”

Reopening hotels under the right conditions with ALLSAFE

To ensure hotels were suspended correctly and could reopen safely, Vincent created a dedicated project for every hotel in the IMEA region, which included checklists and guidelines that had to be completed.

“This was quite similar to the hotel opening format actually, but it was made for suspension and reopening. It was successful and fairly easy to implement because again, Taskworld was super helpful in doing so.”

The guidelines for reopening were soon consolidated for the entire group and rolled out as “ALLSAFE”, Accor’s program to provide a safe guest experience with intensified hygiene & prevention measures.

As experienced Taskworld users, Accor’s IMEA and Asia-Pacific regions decided to roll out ALLSAFE through one workspace in which every hotel would be reflected with its own project. All requirements for the ALLSAFE certification were organized by categories with matching tasklists. This allowed the team to monitor the rollout on a regional level and to document all processes.

Again, Accor utilized the guest feature to involve the General Managers of the properties:

“The way we did the setup is that the General Manager is responsible for the rollout in her/his property. We have guest experience leaders in charge of the area who would monitor the level of the submittals through the system. And then, only if all criteria were met, then we would validate the internal certification of "ALLSAFE". And again, thanks to tags and sequences of projects and tasks lists, and the fact that we can easily upload photos as evidence. We managed to have a solid understanding and a confident assessment of the rollout of the program in our region.”

This strategy was not only used to initially roll out the ALLSAFE requirements but also to track and assess whether they were continuously maintained over time. Like the suspension activities, the data of the ALLSAFE Taskworld workspace was then connected to a Google Data Studio dashboard to give everyone visibility over the implementation of the new hygiene and safety standards of the individual properties.

Being able to track and see the properties’ activities on a larger level soon sparked the idea for other business opportunities.

The future of the hospitality industry

Vincent believes that while leisure tourism will eventually recover first once the pandemic has been brought under control, the hospitality industry needs to get creative to restore their business travel revenue as experts project that video conferencing will replace some if not the majority of business-related travel even beyond the pandemic.

The COVID crisis taught many businesses that working from a distance is not as complicated as anticipated. However, not everyone has access to the right level of equipment to replace in-person meetings with video calls completely.

For that reason, Accor has decided to open up its conferencing solutions to small groups that have a need for hybrid meetings.

ALL CONNECT allows business guests to blend physical and virtual meetings. The concept is primarily targeted towards smaller groups (8 to 50 participants) that can use dedicated and fully equipped conference rooms in Accor’s hotels to connect with colleagues, clients, or vendors through Microsoft Teams.

Within Taskworld, the team tracked the equipment needed and all requirements to roll out their hybrid meeting solution. The existing macro-management template that was implemented for ALLSAFE was used to assess the equipment level in every hotel and plan which properties needed additional investment to provide ALL CONNECT to their business guests.

The program launched in April 2021 and will initially be offered by around 55% of the properties; however, Accor aims to implement the new standards for hybrid meetings across all their brands and properties by 2022.

Vincent appreciates having Taskworld as a business partner in these challenging times and being able to rely on a tool that connects their teams worldwide:

“Rolling out Taskworld opened up opportunities to manage simultaneously and remotely multiple complicated projects like hotel openings, internal program launch, as well as crisis management programs from head to tail. Getting all our talents and experts to efficiently collaborate on a secured, organized, and systematic solution has been facilitated by the simplicity of onboarding our users. Taskworld proved itself to be a game-changer while we had to project manage the pandemic crisis at a global and regional level in a record time involving the collaboration of hundreds of colleagues from every corner around the globe.”

Thank you, Vincent, for sharing these insights with us! If you’d like to read more about how Accor opens hotels with Taskworld, check out out this article.