During his stay in Egypt, Daily News Egypt had the opportunity to sit down with Olivier Granet, who was appointed managing director and COO of AccorHotels Middle East in January.
Granet oversees the overall operations of AccorHotels’ diverse portfolio of internationally renowned luxury, upscale, midscale, and economy hotels in the region, and is responsible for the development of the AccorHotels network in the Middle East.
Can you tell us more about AccorHotels in Egypt?
AccorHotels is the leading hotel operator worldwide, with 4,000 properties in the world in 92 countries.
We have a long-standing presence in Egypt, more than 35 years, where we opened our first hotel in 1981, which was Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport.
Today in Egypt we have 14 hotels, which feature 4,000 rooms, with a dedicated office and team based here in Cairo.
Are you concerned about the unstable security situation in the region?
I have been in the region for the past five years, based in Dubai. I am in charge of development across the entire Middle East and covering Egypt as well as ten other countries included in our regional platform in Dubai.
So I am used to the region. Another important factor is how close we are to our partners, our ability to integrate them in our development project, and our ability to manage our properties.
In these regards I am satisfied with what we have achieved. The relation we have developed with our partners and the operations we conduct for them have been especially successful.
I am proud of the company’s achievements, especially in an environment with some security issues. We just have to deal with it.
Security issues are not only present in the Middle East, as you have seen what happened in France and Belgium.
How is being present in Egypt important for AccorHotels’ investments?
Egypt is a very important market in order to expand in the region. Egypt has been key for all our development in the region. Our presence in Egypt facilitated us with many connections with different countries, in terms of investments, guests, and visitors. This is a fact which is obviously supporting our development and is a main part of it.
What are your plans in the upcoming period?
Our current average is opening one hotel per month in the region. We have an ambitious plan and expect to double our network in the region by 2020.
Which areas are you concentrating on to open these hotels?
Our development plan so far is focusing on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt is an important starting point for us and a significant part for our plan to develop in the region.
In 1999, you joined as Chief Financial Officer for Central Europe. According to your experience, what advantages does Central Europe have to attract development projects and investments, which Egypt does not have?
It is difficult to compare Egypt with Central Europe. Every region and country has its own characteristics and Egypt has much to offer. It is a large country with large population, a long and prestigious history, and various touristic attractions and monuments.
Security is important, as you mentioned, in order to utilise what Egypt has to offer. Tourism is an important element for economy, including offering jobs many of which are directly and indirectly linked to tourism.
So security is important for establishing hotels, investments and tourism. In this regard, how are you cooperating with authorities here, including the Ministry of Interior, to assure security and develop further?
Security is important in every country. In different parts of the world our policy is quite common, including our own standards and security conditions, which we apply in our hotels.