Overall ranking: 15
Hoteliers ranking: 3
Michael Flaxman is managing director of Accor Hotels for the Northern, Central and Eastern European regions. He is responsible for more than 300 hotels in 15 countries, the largest being the UK and Ireland.
France-based Accor, which also has a services division, is the world’s third largest hotel group and operates more than 4,000 hotels in 90 countries under a variety of brands spanning from deluxe to economy.
Flaxman, who was born in 1954, has spent 25 years in the hotel industry. He started with Mount Charlotte Hotels (which became Thistle Hotels) where he held various management roles.
In 1979 he moved to New York for Trusthouse Forte where he worked through a number of operational roles to become vice-president for Trusthouse Forte and Travelodge Development in North America.
Flaxman joined Accor North American Corporation when the French-based company was moving into the market. He rose to become president and chief executive officer.
After Accor bought Motel 6 in the USA, Flaxman was transferred to Paris as development director for Novotel Worldwide, with responsibility for several European, Asian and African countries.
Flaxman became managing director of Novotel UK in 1994 but retained responsibility for Eastern Europe and North America. In 1997 he took control of Accor Business and Leisure Hotels UK and Ireland. He assumed his current title in 2003.
What we think
Accor has grown rapidly through an aggressive acquisition strategy that has netted it more than 14 hotel and extended-stay brands. Its UK expansion, however, started slowly. It opened its first UK hotel, the Coventry Novotel, in 1973 and had just 18 Novotels, eight Ibis and three Formule 1 properties by 1995, shortly after Flaxman moved across from Paris.
Under Flaxman’s direction, the company has grown into the UK’s fifth largest player with 90 properties. They include the up-scale Sofitel (one hotel), the mid-scale Novotel (30) and Mercure (one) brands, and three budget lines – Ibis (46), Formule 1 (10) and Etap (two). The bulk (73%) of the UK portfolio is leased and 2% are run under management contracts.
The UK is the largest territory overseen by Flaxman, and it employs 4,800 of Accor’s 158,000 employees. His other key regions are Poland (with more than 70 hotels), Switzlerland (27 hotels), Austria (21 hotels) and Hungary (20 hotels).
Accor’s 2004 financial results revealed the UK and Eastern Europe to be among its strongest-performing regions, along with the Americas and Asia). Europe has been earmarked as a key area for growth as it receives 60% of the world’s international tourist arrivals yet has 79% of hotels under independent ownership.
Flaxman is aiming to boost the UK portfolio to 200 hotels by opening between five to 10 new properties a year, partly through franchising. The development will focus on building up the Novotel and Ibis networks and expanding the Etap brand. Last year, Accor was so keen to acquire Queens Moat Houses that it teamed up with two potential buyers, but lost out to the Goldman Sachs bid.
In 2001, Flaxman was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French Government for his services to the country.