After leaving England in 1976, Ray Stone has literally spent 20 years of his life moving from one place to another around the globe before settling in with Accor. He assumed the position of Vice President for Sales and Marketing for Accor Asia Pacific in March 2003 after joining the Group in 1996.
"It was always about the hospitality industry, specifically in the sales and marketing area. Looking back, I think I've been in the business for almost 35 years now," he said to The Jakarta Post.
And Accor, currently a predominant player in the hotel and hospitality industry in the region, has revealed aggressive expansion steps in the upcoming years.
Six Accor hotel brands are scheduled to be opened in Bangkok in the near future while at least 11 new Mercure hotels are scheduled to start operations throughout the region from Japan to Bangalore this year.
In the recent World of Accor Expo in Jakarta, Accor asserted it planned to open three new hotels in the country, namely Mercure Bali Kuta Harvestland in Kuta in late 2010, All Seasons Yogyakarta in 2011 and Mercure Pontianak in the third quarter of 2009, adding what's already a handful in the archipelago.
Accor currently operates 37 hotels in Indonesia. Five new hotel projects, namely Novotel Gajah Mada, Novotel Manado, Novotel Tangerang, Novotel Bangka and Mercure Solo, were announced earlier this year, while the group expected to grow its network to operate 48 hotels in Indonesia by 2011.
"Along with Korea, Indonesia has revealed positive performances in this year's first quarter despite the global economic downturn," he said. And while the group has recorded a 5.8 percent decrease in revenue, when the hotel and hospitality industry dropped by 8.7 percent in the quarter, Accor remained positive with its market positioning in Indonesia.
"Looking at our expansion rate, the impact of Accor's increasing profile for domestic, in-bound and out-bound travel, I think Indonesia will become one of the strongest players in the region for us. We're very positive in growth of future in Indonesia," he said, convinced that times of crisis are also times of opportunity.
And in the region, at least 10 sales offices has been established to invigorate sales, to build and develop relationships and to identify business opportunities. "We will focus on tactical activities during the year, including seasonal tactics. Different times and markets depend on the particular periods of needs," he said, citing hotels acquiring, re-branding and recent room super sales online as examples.
According to Ray, some of Accor's important steps in strengthening its business this year relates to its partnerships with major airlines in the region, developing special offers in flights programs. Accor has also come up with World of Accor, running in 12 countries in the region so far, in which through their website, the group has acquired at least two and a half million members in six months.
But the key to Accor's success is not far from its multiple brands catering to different segments of the market. "Not just cash value, but also location, hotel atmosphere and style. From our luxury brand Sofitel to Formule1, each has clear positioning and tactical approach to identify the best value and drive it accordingly."
In addition, being a European group based in France, Ray claimed that Accor has the needed qualities to stand among other groups in global markets. "It affects us in terms of the way we do business, mainly in flexibility and relationship building. Strategic drive is one thing, but flexibility to adapt to local culture is a significant aspect. I mean looking at Indonesia, we have more Indonesian GMs than any other hotel or company here. The same thing goes for China."
Ray believes that at the end of the day, its relationship base here in Indonesia. "Working in the region for many years, I just think that we're always open to change some things in the company for the better, including finding out and adapting to local culture, it's a very European way of facing things."
This philosophy is in line with Ray's personal belief in life. "I believe in learning. I believe that when I stop learning I begin to die. I won't stop learning as long as I continue to have curiosity. I'm the type of person who likes to ask questions and get answers to them even in matters beyond business, to things that are important to me."
Ray also likes the idea of meeting and interacting with people of different backgrounds and cultures. He believes that a journey, discovering something about oneself, is self-fulfillment. And that if one has a positive outlook on life, it will radiates back to them and in turn receiving back the best from life. "I'm not always successful in that, but I do try."
Name: Ray Stone
Place/date of birth: Welwyn Garden City - Hertfordshire England
Status: Married with 3 children
- Various positions at TWA in UK
- Hilton UK and New York US (1976)
- Vice President Global Marketing of Westin Hotels
- Regional Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Shangri La (1983)
- Joined Accor Group and based in Sidney Australia (1996)
- Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Accor Asia Pacific (2003)