After a two-year Covid postponement, the 10th edition of Accor’s Global Meeting Exchange brought together top clients, company leadership, hotel representatives and partner companies for networking, education and a chance to experience the historic Fairmont San Francisco.

The property, which opened in grand style on Nob Hill in 1907, took the exceptional step of closing the gilded lobby to traffic and transforming it into a dine-around opening reception to show off the culinary reach of the Accor hospitality world, which encompasses Fairmont, Raffles, Orient Express, Delano, Sofitel, Emblems, SLS, Pullman, Swissotel, Ibis and others.

Well Done

The three-day event was a sneak peek at a major reorganization of the global hotel company coming this fall. The emphasis was on the brand’s continuing commitment to sustainability and wellness. Markus Keller, Accor chief sales and distribution officer, shared his view of how meetings business is coming back in different parts of the world. “We have seen a rise in corporate travel,” he said.

Read more about hotels concentrating on sustainability.

But groups aren’t coming back exactly the way they were three years ago. He noted an increased focus on CSR and a responsibility, not only to the environment, but also to social responsibilities in the form of gender and racial equality.

Accor showcased fun ways meeting professionals can put wellness front-and-center on a meeting agenda, including morning exercise options such as yoga sessions in the spectacular Grace Cathedral, guided walks through the city and luxurious massage sessions.

Keynote speaker Leigh Weinraub, founder of Mind in Motion, spoke inspiringly on the tools for mental and emotional fitness. Building emotional strength and discipline through practice and physical movement ultimately leads to greater self-awareness, confidence and performance for individuals and team, she attested.


To prepare for returning crowds, Accor properties are getting creative about recruiting, training and retaining employees during a global staffing shortage. Accor Chairman and CEO Sebastian Bazin reported that by continuing to support employees throughout the pandemic, the company came back in a stronger workforce position. By recruiting from schools and at-risk communities, Accor hopes to expose more people to the opportunities in hospitality careers.

It seems that “we all took an opportunity to look at ourselves and what we want out of this life and the time we have on the planet,” Keller said. Accor hopes to answer those existential questions with the promise of a meaningful career serving travelers.

Also prominent on the agenda was news of meetings and incentive properties in the pipeline. More than 300 properties are in opening in destinations such as London, Doha, Indonesia, Denmark and Panama City. One of the most anticipated openings of the year is Raffles London at The OWO in the historic Old War Office with 120 guest rooms and 11 restaurants and bars. In northwest England, Novotel Liverpool Paddington Village will open with more than 220 guest rooms.

The strength of Accor’s network across Europe continues to be bolstered with recent and upcoming openings, such as Sofitel Barcelona Skipper, Mercure Amsterdam Northibis Styles St. Margrethen Switzerland, and Mercure Hotel President in Lecce and MGallery Cagliari Palazzo Tirso, both in Italy.

At Accor’s headquarters in Paris, the company will welcome MGallery Issy-les-Moulineaux Domaine de la Reine Margot and Paris Vincennes.  In the United States, Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences is taking shape as a 35-story tower featuring 146 residences, 147 guest rooms, and six food and beverage venues, including a sky bar and speakeasy.