Earlier this 12 months AccorHotels struck strategic partnership with the South Africa-based Mantis Group, a group of award-winning, privately owned, managed and branded five-star properties and lodges.
Right here Breaking Journey Information chats with Philippe Baretaud, the newly appointed chief government of Mantis, to see what the partnership means for the corporate and its operations world wide.
Breaking Journey Information: AccorHotels took a 50 per cent stake in Mantis Group within the spring this 12 months. What had been the motivations behind the deal?
Philippe Baretaud: The motivations for each Mantis and AccorHotels was the truth is primarily based on frequent shared values
Mantis is widely known for its far-flung experiences aimed on the journey curious, focuses on upscale inns with Mantis Assortment, cruises with Zambezi Queen, tour operation with Giltedge and conservation with Worldwide Expertise.
It clearly represented, for AccorHotels, a real African model with a novel legacy, in addition to an indication of AccorHotels’ additional dedication to Africa.
That is additionally according to AccorHotels’ technique of shifting past the strict conventional hospitality discipline, as a substitute aiming to offer its visitors with a spectrum of advantages associated to life-style and journey providers.
The settlement permits Mantis to benefit from the worldwide footprint of AccorHotels.
With a reservation and gross sales community supported by a variety of digital advertising actions, Mantis will develop its present geographic footprint and buyer base.
Additionally it is an important alternative for the purchasers of Mantis to profit from their participation in Le Membership AccorHotels, which is recognised as one of the crucial highly effective loyalty packages within the trade with over 100 million members.
There will even be an opportunity to develop synergies, akin to with AccorHotels’ luxurious personal rental platforms OneFineStay, with personal gross sales platform Very Stylish and even with concierge service John Paul.
AccorHotels chairman Sébastien Bazin, left, celebrates the Mantis partnership with founder Adrian Gardiner
BTN: How far alongside is the combination of the 2 corporations? What challenges stay within the coming 12 months?
PB: To be frank I wrestle just a little with the phrase “integration” as a result of from what has simply been mentioned you’ll perceive that it’s not precisely what we goal at for Mantis.
“Integration” makes one consider mergers primarily based on scale, figures, numbers and synergies of sources inside related enterprise mannequin.
Right here with Mantis it’s considered otherwise.
Subsequently, a conventional “integration” mannequin with the standard processing and indicators wouldn’t be related whereas we’re adamant to protect Mantis originality. 
We are going to create synergies with AccorHotels, together with help platforms and sources to strengthen Mantis’ enterprise mannequin and velocity up the model’s growth throughout Africa and different key locations worldwide. 
Mantis is a really indigenous African model with a powerful heritage, consciousness and credentials within the hospitality and conservation house. 
As such, Mantis has an unique DNA that we’ll not solely protect but additionally reinforce and additional differentiate. 
In reality, that’s for my part, a very powerful goal of the approaching 12 months and on which we’ll preserve the main focus with our chairman Adrian Gardiner and the groups.
Subsequently, we goal at utilizing the size, the experience, the helps and the digital instruments of AccorHotels to additional strengthening Mantis’ identification and the personalisation of its relationships with the visitors.
So as to take action, we now have prioritised levers of enterprise synergies on which we’re focusing for the subsequent 12 months and which might be key for Mantis’ ambitions.
The target we now have fastened is to have by finish of first half 2019 all of the managed Mantis inns on AccorHotels’ distribution and linked to Le Membership, with a brand-new web site and a refreshed and stronger model platform with enhanced visibility. 
After all, they’re challenges, akin to to seek out out the precise IT options and affordable compromises for generally very small capability Mantis properties, requiring tailor made options on a case-by-case foundation.
Happily, there’s a excellent understanding between the devoted integration workforce arrange by AccorHotels and the Mantis workforce.
Having devoted integration consultants on AccorHotels aspect reveals the precise method to push ahead and switch across the quite a few points which might be elevating as we progress.
It permits additionally retaining a unity of targets and construct up a sentiment of belonging and of mutual understanding between the small, quick and entrepreneurship minded Mantis and the well-empowered, organised course of oriented and company minded AccorHotels.
Working collectively is the important thing to get our individuals motivated and thrilled to attain a standard goal that they’ll perceive, and it appears that evidently we’re succeeding in that respect.
As soon as the prevailing and the newly opened Mantis properties will likely be distributed and can profit from the brand-new web site, permitting seamless navigation and bookings via the AccorHotels central reservation platform (TARS), we’ll focus to leverage Mantis enterprise over the second half of the 12 months.
We are going to goal an optimisation of the highest line via the usage of the varied direct channels (particularly with AccorHotels Le Membership members), oblique channels and optimised income administration.
Development can be a key part of the longer term Mantis technique and we now have determined to develop the African rooted Mantis as a real world model.
The partnership allows Mantis to envisage a brand new wave of growth that ought to happen as soon as the combination is achieved: the model, benefiting of AccorHotels highly effective distribution and loyalty methods, reserving engine, buyer relation advertising instruments and a extensively enhanced visibility ought to seem then extraordinarily interesting to house owners and traders.
In that respect we’ll put together to hurry up and densify the event of Mantis in Africa but additionally leverage the highly effective community of AccorHotels house owners and of franchisees in Europe, and particularly – however not solely – UK and France.
By attaining these priorities over the subsequent 12 months, I imagine that we’ll give Mantis an actual launch pad to develop and preserve being completely different.

BTN: What function does Adrian Gardiner, who based Mantis Group in 2000, now have with the corporate?
PB: These days and only some months after the closing of our partnership, Adrian, founder and government chairman of the corporate, is actively dedicated in all facets of the enterprise.
Adrian is vital throughout the partnership, due to his experience and understanding of the Mantis ethos and enterprise mannequin, but additionally due to his private legitimacy on the continent and past.
As a well-recognised ambassador in conservation, schooling, eco-tourism, Adrian will likely be key to supporting the event of Mantis and of AccorHotels in Africa in addition to to reinforce Mantis visibility and recognition of its values and of its enterprise mannequin worldwide.
Adrian is the very best model ambassador for the longer term selling of Mantis.

BTN: Accor outlined some bold growth plans for Africa throughout AHIF in Nairobi. The place does Mantis Group match into these proposals?
PB: At Mantis, we’re proud to be a part of AccorHotels – an organization for which I’ve labored for a really very long time, however you will need to notice that we can not measure Mantis’ contribution to the group’s progress by strictly the variety of resort or rooms.
From my quick expertise with Mantis, I’ve already skilled how completely different it’s to develop, open and function an eco-lodge in a distant (and exquisite) location.
It’s extremely advanced course of, counting on very particular abilities in any respect ranges. 
As well as, it’s worthwhile to have every little thing proper as a result of your dedication with each Mantis is to maintain providing the traveller unique emotion via authenticity, understated luxurious and personalisation of the service and of the relation.
In that context we now have managed to open ten Mantis properties worldwide in 2018, with a particular point out to distinctive lodges just like the Umfolozi eco-lodge within the Kwazulu natal or the Lion Camp Safari Lodge in South Luangwa nationwide park, Zambia.
However I may point out in Center East the attractive Kingfisher lodge going through the ocean on a wild seaside of the emirate of Sharjah.
In 2019, we forecast between seven and eight new openings.
So, it’s positively high quality earlier than amount, distinctive versus common, personalisation above standardisation, emotion and shock versus quick examine in quick take a look at.
From 2020 onward, we anticipate a stronger progress via administration and franchise contracts and we’ll repair ourselves extra bold targets.
Development will generate further sources that can allow to extend advertising spending and growth velocity, producing a virtuous circle with no alteration of the basics of the model nor its values.

BTN: You’ve gotten cited ‘frequent values’ between AccorHotels and Mantis Group as one of many prime motivators for the deal. The place do the ambitions of the 2 organisations overlap?
PB: Past enterprise, there was an immense half performed by frequent values shared by Mantis and AccorHotels about their commitments to sustainability, conservation, communities and schooling in addition to a real willingness to speculate on the long run in Africa.
Whereas progress trajectory is vital,  the partnership marks AccorHotels dedication to align with like-minded corporations akin to Mantis, a gaggle that isn’t solely a unprecedented supplier of curated, one-of-a-kind experiences however one which additionally demonstrates a powerful ethos in terms of conservation and sustainability.
This can be a paradigm shift: to align and embrace teams that share the identical values.
Mantis is the right instance given their moral practices within the sustainability and conservation enviornment.
You’ll respect that Mantis stands for: Man And Nature Collectively Is Sustainable.
The Mantis Group is certainly a frontrunner in driving key conservation and schooling tasks throughout Africa, instantly with Worldwide Expertise specialised within the organisation of hole years packages for college students who need to uncover and expertise the Africa wilderness.
The AccorHotels and Mantis groups have already began to work actively on the enhancement and the event of those actions, with AccorHotels Le Membership, Planet 21, and the Accor Solidarity Basis.
Furthermore, the AccorHotels expertise and tradition workforce has visited the Stenden College campus of Port Alfred with a view to establishing a serious cooperation with the AccorHotels coaching academy of Center East and Africa to supply, to coach and to make use of younger skills within the current and sooner or later inns.
The sharing of frequent values and dedication to conservation has been in the end demonstrated by the creation of the CCFA (Group Conservation Fund Africa), a registered NGO and by its preliminary funding by the 2 chairmen of Mantis and AccorHotels, Adrian Gardiner and Sebastien Bazin after the signature of the settlement of a three way partnership.
This grant giving basis has the target of stopping the accelerating decline of Africa’s wildlife and mobilising the journey and hospitality trade to take an energetic half within the conservation in addition to the welfare of the communities.
The CCFA will even convey collectively the three internationally famend conservation organisations: the Wilderness Basis, Tusk Belief and African Parks as beneficiaries. 
CCFA will drive the talk, have interaction native communities and will likely be chargeable for administrating the price range devoted to the tasks chosen by the Fund.
Philippe Baretaud, centre left, celebrates with Mantis founder Adrian Gardiner, centre proper, and Rebecca Cohen of World Journey Awards, proper
BTN: Lastly, Mantis Group was lately recognised with the title of Africa’s Main Boutique Lodge Model on the World Journey Awards. How do honours akin to this assist develop the corporate?
PB: Such awards present evident recognition of the achievements by the groups in a tricky and aggressive surroundings.
Subsequently, it’s not solely passable and inspiring for the groups, nevertheless it additionally represents a superb benchmark whereby we will consider ourselves in the marketplace.
We had been additionally more than happy to see Giltedge awarded because the South African’s Main Luxurious Tour Operator on the similar ceremony of the world journey awards, demonstrating that the uncompromised high quality is as effectively current in our aptitude at packaging tailor-made distinctive excursions for prime demanding worldwide travellers .
Extra Data
The Mantis community options 28 managed properties, plus a world community of branded inns and residences, together with boutique villas and flagship properties akin to Founders Lodge, a South African sport reserve positioned within the Japanese Cape, Mantis St Helena, a boutique resort on the distant island within the Atlantic Ocean, in addition to the Draycott Lodge in London, synonymous with Outdated World magnificence and quintessential British luxurious.
Discover out extra on the official web site.

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