Floor Bleeker is chief information officer for Middle East and Africa operations and global strategic programs at Accor. He joined the company in 2018 when Accor acquired Mövenpick, where he had served as chief information officer since 2013. With almost 20 years’ experience in the luxury hospitality sector, he has also held management positions at Jumeirah Group, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and Radisson Hotel Group.
At Mövenpick, Bleeker directed the move from decentralized legacy systems to modern centralized solutions, beginning with the roll-out of Oracle’s Opera cloud-based property management system. The project, which began in 2016 and involved more than 60 hotels globally, took two-and-a-half years to complete. And while there were numerous technical challenges along the way, they came as no surprise. “We were the first in the world to roll out this platform so we knew there would be glitches, and we were prepared for them,” he said.
The bigger obstacle was one Bleeker hadn’t anticipated: Employee resistance to a major shift in technology. “Change is hard, even in the best of times, and getting everyone on board with this project was the biggest challenge we faced.” He notes that the property management system is at the heart of every hotel’s operations, so replacing the old with the new is particularly difficult.
As a result, change management became a major part of Bleeker’s transformation journey. He and his team made sure every employee had an opportunity to voice concerns and be involved in decision making. They were also available to answer questions and offer support – via weekly video calls, all-hands meetings and a dedicated WhatsApp group. “We provided a lot of support during the entire process,” he said.
In addition to the PMS roll-out, Bleeker also oversaw the implementation of new revenue management and customer relationship management platforms, both of which deliver mobile-enabled cloud-based tools. The result is access to richer data and increased market share for each property. “The systems ensure that our operations are as efficient and cost-effective as possible,’ he said.
Bleeker, who currently serves as president of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), a global non-profit trade association that unites hospitality companies and technology innovators to solve business challenges, believes the industry has a long way to go – technology-wise – to catch up with other market sectors, such as retail and manufacturing. “Too many of our processes are cumbersome and overly complicated.”
At the top of his wish list is open architecture. “Openness will automatically fuel innovation, and innovation will make our lives better as hoteliers,” he said. “Technology has enormous power to transform the industry, but we must become more agile if we want to make a real difference in the way we operate.”