Sébastien Bazin Accor CEO: 'Impossible' to segregate business and leisure travelBy Angelique Platas | July 20, 2023Share Shifts on how consumers work and play requires a big shift in how hotels come to market, cater to locals. Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Hotel Investment Today sister publication Business Travel News Europe.Addressing the evolving needs of the hospitality industry will require embracing bleisure travel, as business and leisure are now "impossible" to segregate, Accor Group Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin said last week during the company's 2023 Global Meeting Exchange in Paris."Don't try anymore to segregate leisure and business because it’s going to be vastly impossible except on [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] and congress events," Bazin said, attributing those blurred lines to remote work, which he also encouraged organizations to embrace.Work-from-anywhere has proved to be "huge" for Accor, Bazin said, adding that it generates “repeat loyal business” and has changed his outlook on how the hotel business needs to evolve. To Accor, he said, that evolution will concern far more than the guest room, even for business travelers."The welcoming, the lobby, the bar, the restaurant, the people you meet. … It’s all this hospitality we’ve missed for so many years," Bazin said, calling the community spaces "critical" to the success of hospitality in the new paradigm and adding that the hotel room is just an "accessory." Indeed, much of the focus may be taken off travelers.Whatever we're going to be building in the future in terms of new brands, new hotels … has to be designed [and] programmed for the local community… not for the travelers.Sébastien BazinShare this quote"Whatever we're going to be building in the future in terms of new brands, new hotels … has to be designed [and] programmed for the local community… not for the travelers," he said, arguing that catering to the local community will attract travelers more holistically, as they will know the location is "busy, trendy, quirky [and] food and beverage works" because of the uptake from the surrounding community."If you don’t respond to the locals, don’t expect to respond to the non-locals. Start with the easiest, which is your neighborhood," he said, adding that Accor is extending that concept not only throughout its product, service and hospitality mix, but also to how it can contribute to communities.Bazin highlighted the company’s recent initiatives to reach into the communities where it does business and find a “different set of people” to fill service gaps.The company, he said, is seeking out employees without higher education or hospitality experience and is looking to train them for the roles they aspire to."When you’re talking about underprivileged local community, show your hand, take them on board," Bazin said. "Train them to have a greater self-esteem. They might leave you in five years, but you would have done something good for your industry."Company representatives pointed to refugees and others they had employed within the food and beverage department, working through the Accor endowment fund.