Mehdi Hemici, senior vice-président Fidélisation et Partenariats de Accor; décrit les atouts de la carte ALL-VISA. (c) Julien Scussel Mehdi Hemici, Accor’s Senior Vice President, Loyalty and Partnerships, describes the advantages of the ALL-VISA card. (c) Julien Scussel

With the launch of the ALL-VISA payment card, does Accor intend to give itself new ways to connect with its customers?

Mehdi Hemici – Our aim is to establish a direct and more frequent relationship with our customers. What could be better than a payment card, which is used every day, even several times, to extend these interactions beyond the stay and accompany them before, during and after their trip, almost on a daily basis? This launch is part of this dynamic.

Especially since the use of the card in everyday life is a fundamental trend

M. H. – That’s true. It is increasingly essential, even for small purchases, such as buying a baguette. Already, when we studied the market in 2019 in anticipation of this new offer, we had noted that cash was losing ground. But, with the covid and the possibility of paying for purchases without contact up to 50 euros or the massive use of e-commerce, it has accelerated again. Three years ago, 68% of purchases in France were paid for in cash, now it’s only 59%. All the indicators show that the payment card’s market share will

increase.

We believe that the time has come to create an innovative card, based on our ALL loyalty programme.

In this context, it seems that you want to go further than the fairly traditional cards issued by the banks, by adding numerous advantages.

M. H. – Indeed, the French market is behind on these value-added cards. While in the United States, there are on average 3.5 cards in a wallet, in France this figure is only 1.3. The reason for this is historical. The GIE des cartes bancaires was a pioneer in creating the CB. However, as the cards are almost exclusively offered by banks, they offer few advantages to the cardholder apart from insurance. But the market is changing. This is why we believe that the time has come to create an innovative card, based on our ALL loyalty programme

. With our strong ecosystem of 42 brands, thousands of bars and restaurants, coworking spaces, and our strong local and international presence, it should have a great resonance. Today, we are launching it in France, then it will be Germany’s turn in 2022, before continuing to roll it out in other countries.

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Why did you choose VISA and BNP as your partners to create this offer?

M. H. – In 2019, we launched a call for tenders to choose

the network. Based on technical and support expertise, we decided to work with VISA on a global scale. Its acceptance network is a key element, because we wanted a card that would be accepted by all merchants on a daily basis. Then, to offer a card, you also need an issuer. It was important for us that it be well established in markets where we have a good network of hotels and a large number of customers. This means France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to name the major countries, but we want to go much further. We launched a European call for tenders and BNP

was

selected based on commercial criteria and the digitalization of the customer experience

. A payment card accepted for all everyday purchases.

However, your new offer is clearly an ALL-VISA card. The bank seems to be further behind. Why is that?

M. H. – To be able to reach the greatest number of customers, the bank should not be an obstacle. With this offer, we are delivering this message: it’s the right time to change cards, but without changing banks. The myth of a payment card automatically being issued by the bank where one’s account is held must be broken. As part of our agreement, BNP agreed to connect it to the accounts of other banks. BNP wanted to be more present in payment and the innovation around this card is a proof of their know-how and expertise.

And what are the advantages of this card, for example?

M. H. – Thanks to BNP, we are able to offer no commission on expenses abroad, in all countries of the world. This is a major advantage for all travellers. BNP also contributed all of its technological know-how to build the Accor Pay application. Through it, customers can consult their entire spending history, segment it by type, see the points they have accumulated, and also call the insurance company in the event of a dispute, in addition to an entire security system for use. As for payment via the smartphone, we will integrate the Apple Pay solution in 2022, and the other “X” Pay – Android Pay, Google Pay – afterwards.

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In your desire to go further than the usual payment cards, what do you propose in terms of insurance?

M. H. – In a fairly traditional way, it comes with an insurance offer, which is among the best on the market, but we have innovated on certain levels. For example, the ALL Pulse card, which is nevertheless the most accessible with a subscription of 54 euros, includes insurance for the mobile phone up to 850 euros in case of breakage or loss. It’s the only one on the market to provide this level of coverage

.

Among other features associated with ALL Explorer maps and ALL Ultimate, travellers have the ability to segment their business and personal expenses within the application.

However, it’s mainly the a la carte benefits that make your card stand out. What are these benefits based on?

M. H. – In addition to the basic offer, customers can choose the ones that are most interesting for them. These formulas, which have a bleisure dimension, will certainly appeal to employees of SMEs, the liberal professions and executives of large companies who do not have a corporate card. Among other features associated with the ALL Explorer and ALL Ultimate cards, travellers can segment their business and personal expenses in the application. In addition, starting in October, expense reports can be issued to better manage expense reports. In addition, in the coming months, it will be possible to associate scanned receipts with these expenses. These are just some of the à la carte benefits, but there are others. For example, customers can choose to have access to a lounge in case of a flight delay, or take advantage of a concierge service to organize their travel, book a train ticket, or rent a car that will be delivered at home. And all this from the app, via a chat.

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Apart from that, how does this card contribute to the ALL loyalty programme?

M. H. – It stands out by allowing a real acceleration in the recognition of our customers. In the hotel world, there are few examples where a payment card is associated with an acceleration of status within the loyalty programme. Some groups minimize this possibility, or even prohibit it. On our side, this acceleration is integrated, and this for the three levels of card. Thus, a traveller can move very quickly from Silver to Gold status, and thus benefit from upgrades in particular. This acceleration is further enhanced by the fact that higher statuses also earn more points. In the end, all these points can be converted into overnight stays, of course, but also to go and see a PSG match or your favourite artist at the Accor Arena. Beyond the hotel business, we offer an ecosystem that rewards customers in their daily lives, through their passions. That’s the richness of the ALL program.

Who are you targeting with the ALL-VISA card?

M. H. – We are targeting individuals, both leisure and business travellers, who may have had the bad experience of having expenses abroad, whose spending does not lead to free hotel stays or unforgettable family experiences. By reaching out to the end consumer, we are challenging their loyalty to the traditional payment card. We want our customers to take a different look at the cards in their wallet and ask themselves the real questions. What added value do they bring? We want to convince them to switch to a card that offers much more than just insurance. The sum of all these advantages could enable us to take a considerable share of the market.