Novotel Toronto Centre
The success of Novotel Hotels stems from French-based hotel brand Accor Hotels.
Coming to Canada in 1987, Novotel opened its first location in Mississauga, Ont., followed by three others throughout the Greater Toronto Area. In quick succession within an 18-month period, Novotel established four locations in the GTA as well as a branch in Ottawa and two in Montreal, offering a good marketplace presence for the brand.
Future expansion throughout Canada, in locations such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Halifax, is also considered a viable option.
Novotel has successfully combined contemporary French-style elegance with a focus on upscale business. Novotel provides a range of modern hotels, and a wide range of products to meet the demands of all its business customers. Accordingly, Novotel has situated most of its properties in city centres and central business districts.
Janak Bhawnani, General Manager of Novotel Toronto Centre, emphasized the philosophies that have steered Novotel to success.
“Novotel offers a clean, no frills, business-focused, contemporary, service-based environment,” Bhawnani commented.
Meeting rooms for clients are a big focus at Novotel, structured for customer ease. Novotel takes care of it all, from arrangements, to refreshments, to room requirements. Added Bhawnani, “It’s what we pride ourselves on. Our meeting rooms have whiteboards, screens, televisions or LCD projectors, coffee, and everything that goes along with this.”
An added feature is that Novotel renovates its hotels with sustainability and the environment in mind. Meeting rooms with large windows allow for plenty of natural light to enter business settings.
Internet and mobile connectivity are also of great importance to Novotel and its customer base. Today, Novotel in Canada runs exceptional connectivity performance through all of its hotels, and fibre optic connections where available.
Novotel’s focus on sustainability has been certified by EarthCheck, an Australian-based program that follows stringent sustainability policies. The goal for Novotel is to have all of its worldwide hotels EarthCheck certified by 2013.
“EarthCheck audits you on site, unbeknownst to you, and only then can you get certification. Prior to this, it takes one year of good environmental practices within each building to be able to arrive at EarthCheck’s certification,” Bhawnani summarized.
Novotel focuses on good environmental practices and contributes to sustainability in many forms, a focus which also contributes to Novotel’s marketplace competitiveness. Most companies prefer to work with companies of a similar mindset, something that Bhawnani feels truly comes into focus when discussing ‘go green’ initiatives.
“When we sign contracts, a lot of companies will send addendums asking us what kind of environmental programs we have,” Bhawnani commented.
Staying at Novotel pays. Le Club Accorhotels (formally known as A-Club), the customer loyalty program offered by Novotel, is lucrative to clients, who are able to “earn and burn” points quickly. With client information already on hand, Le Club Accorhotels also offers bonuses like express check-in. Bhawnani added, “Customer relationship management is one of our prime focuses. [Le Club Accorhotels] is something we are really proud of and most of our clients—over 7 million worldwide—have signed up, so we are very happy with the plan.”
Company loyalty is also evident with Novotel staff, many of whom have been with the company since Day 1. For the past two years, and a candidate again for 2012, Novotel has been recognized as a Top 50 employer in Canada, another contributor to the company’s competitive edge. Bhawnani summarized, “Our employees are our greatest asset.”
“What also gives us a competitive edge is the fact that we are constantly spending money in all our hotels, constantly updating them, whether we’re putting in fibre optics, or renovating our bedrooms, renovating our lobbies, and of course continuously training and motivating our team members. It always about finding the next thing that our guests will like.”
“When the economic slowdown happened, one of the first things people cut was travel,” Bhawnani explained. “Or, if people were staying in 5 Stars, they started staying in 4 Stars or 3 Stars. [The recession] hurt our business tremendously; we were really adversely affected in 2009, as was every other business.”
Thankfully, Novotel has seen a bounce back in 2010 and 2011, following 2008’s record year for hospitality.
However, a higher value Canadian dollar has also taken its stake in the hospitality industry. In the past, a cheaper Canadian dollar allowed more foreign travellers to enter the country and spend their money, however, that scenario is less frequent today. Still, the coming year looks positive for Novotel, as the company plans to build on its success, not to mention its exciting sustainability measures.
“Our business model is clearly set. The next step is to revitalize our brand portfolio and to share unique expertise with our franchisees. In the spirit of conquest, our development plan is our ambition in the global hotel industry that will take us to the next level.”