Accor Hotels Buying Fairmont, Presidents Club Members Worry

A year ago IHG acquired Kimpton. Hyatt was in the running for that prize, and almost bought Starwood before Marriott scooped Starwood up.

Hyatt now becomes more of an acquisition target than an acquirer, I’d imagine, although I believe special voting rights for shares held by the Pritzker family (those have 10 times the voting rights of ordinary shares) means any deal for Hyatt is more likely to have to be a friendly one.

Fairmont Hotels has been on the auction block as well. IHG was rumored as a possible buyer. Accor, which was also named as a possible suitor for Starwood, has done the deal picking up the parent of Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissotel for $2.9 billion.

The group of three brands includes 115 hotels and resorts and 43,000 rooms. It has an additional 40 hotels in development which include 13,000 rooms.

Lobby of the Fairmont Royal York, Toronto

Accor did improve its elite benefits two years ago. (Fairmont customers will want to reveal their internal loyalty manual.)

However the biggest worry for the consumer in any such tie-up is:

  • That the Fairmont Presidents Club is unique. But it’s hard to imagine over time Accor running Presidents Club for such a small portfolio.

  • Le Club Accorhotels doesn’t have a ‘lifetime Platinum’ concept. Several folks took advantage of a Living Social deal that came with Lifetime Platinum status in Fairmont Presidents Club back in 2011 that was surprisingly honored. What happens to those Lifetime Platinums in an Accor future? Do they become Accor Platinums? Do they lose lifetime status altogether?

  • What will happen to the Fairmont Visa from Chase?

Lifetime benefits have a mixed history in mergers, although have been riskier when resulting from mergers coming out of bankruptcy.

Nonetheless, a Fairmont acquisition probably wouldn’t mean immediate changes for loyal Fairmont guests, but there’s no universe in which it is a net positive over time other than being able to earn points which can later be redeemed for a broad array of hotels around the world, most of which are of a lesser standard.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What a timely announcement. I was just in the process of changing my card strategy from points for spending to benefits.

    The Fairmont card was a strong contender for left over non-bonused spending since $12k/yr would get a free night anywhere plus the upgraded stay certificate. It was more generous than the Hyatt (Cat<=4), Hilton (Weekend Only) and even IHG cards (No Upgrades).

    The acquisition and merger of Starwood, Marriott and Fairmont takes these programs and cards off the table for me. I dont want to devote effort to starting with a program that has now introduced major uncertainty in its benefits going forward.

    The IHG card already gives the night regardless of spend, and they have so many promotions that spending on the card would be a wasted opportunity.

    All these mergers really are narrowing the universe of benefits.

  2. Stayed at a few Accor properties, usually when other hotels not available ( Côte d’Ivoire, Turkmenistan have great Sofitels), but their loyalty program is a mystery few years back they offered platinum status, and really didn’t see any positives. Have a good product but for points people not good.

  3. Too bad. Fairmonts are usually fine hotels. Accor, on the other hand, not even close. Will it be the same as Continental dropping to United’s level? I hope not.

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