Duncan O’Rourke on creating memorable, meaningful moments in the Middle East

Duncan O’Rourke on creating memorable, meaningful moments in the Middle East

Duncan O’Rourke, CEO of Accor’s Premium, Midscale & Economy Division, Middle East, Africa & Asia Pacific,

With the region’s hospitality industry currently flying high, Duncan O’Rourke, CEO of Accor’s Premium, Midscale & Economy Division, Middle East, Africa & Asia Pacific, tells HN how the company plans to strengthen the footprint of its brands and drive growth through strategic expansion.

What do you regard as your career highlights to date?

Guiding our teams through the pandemic was a defining moment in my career. This experience shed light on the incredible resilience, flexibility and unity within Accor. Seeing everyone come together with innovative ideas and a firm commitment to supporting our teams, owners and communities was truly inspiring.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Accor moved quickly to establish the ‘ALL Heartist Fund’ to assist our teams. This fund was designed to help Accor team members who were facing financial hardships due to the impact of Covid-19.
This time wasn’t just about overcoming obstacles; it also encouraged deeper connections and camaraderie within our Accor family. Navigating through these tough times strengthened our resolve and personally taught me valuable lessons in leadership and teamwork.

How would you describe your leadership style?

As the CEO of the Premium, Midscale & Economy Division, Middle East, Africa & Asia Pacific (MEA APAC), I lead a region of more than 130,000 team members across 40 countries and embrace a transformational leadership style characterized by empowerment, encouragement and guidance. I believe in empowering individuals within our organization and nurturing a culture where everyone feels valued and capable of making meaningful contributions. I am passionate about stretching the limits of what our team can achieve.
Central to my leadership philosophy is coaching – actively mentoring and supporting our teams, to enable them to excel in their roles. I prioritize open communication and collaboration, creating an environment where ideas are encouraged and feedback is welcomed.
With this team, Accor has witnessed positive transformations, both in terms of business growth and team satisfaction. This inclusive and supportive leadership style inspires a sense of unity and purpose within the organization, driving us toward shared success.

How are Accor hotels performing in the Middle East?

As a world leading hospitality group, Accor currently counts 275 properties (75,000 keys) across all brands in the Middle East with 136 properties (more than 38,000 rooms) within the ‘Premium, Midscale & Economy’ brands. Accor hotels in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE and Qatar, are thriving due to the region’s robust travel and tourism prospects. With prime locations, diverse amenities and unwavering dedication to quality, they consistently draw visitors, boosting the region’s tourism goals. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan also oªers further promising prospects for hospitality expansion, enhancing the region’s allure for both corporate and leisure travelers.

We are deeply grateful to our tourism partners across the Middle East and Africa, for their unwavering support as we expand our presence in the region and contribute to the growth of local communities.

As we continue to invest in the region, we are committed to upholding Accor’s values of hospitality, sustainability and innovation. Together with our partners, we look forward to welcoming guests from around the world and creating unforgettable moments in the Middle East.

How do you evaluate the overall hospitality industry in the Middle East? Where do you see room for improvement?

The hospitality industry in the Middle East is undeniably one of the strongest in the world, marked by remarkable growth and innovation.

Across the region, the quality of F&B offerings is consistently high, reflecting the diverse culinary heritage and commitment to excellence. Moreover, the industry has shown a commendable dedication to sustainability.

However, there are always areas for improvement. Promoting cultural authenticity and preserving local heritage is one such example. While modernization is essential for growth, maintaining a balance between tradition and progress is crucial to preserving the unique charm of the region.

Furthermore, there is a need to focus on enhancing accessibility and inclusivity in the hospitality sector, ensuring that travelers of all backgrounds and abilities can fully enjoy their experiences in the Middle East. By addressing these areas, the industry can continue to thrive, while enriching the overall travel experience for visitors from around the globe.

Which global hospitality trends are causing a stir the MENA region?

In the ever-evolving landscape of hospitality, several global trends are making waves in the region, reshaping the way we welcome and take care of our valued guests.

A significant trend is the integration of AI technology, particularly in personalizing guest experiences. By harnessing the power of AI, hotels can tailor services and offerings to meet the unique preferences and needs of each guest, creating more satisfying stays. Increasingly, travelers are seeking authentic, immersive experiences and value sustainability and social responsibility. Hotels in the region are adapting by offering innovative experiences that resonate with younger travelers, from eco-friendly accommodations to curated local experiences.

There’s a growing emphasis on wellness and well-being, with travelers increasingly prioritizing health-conscious amenities and activities. Hotels are responding by integrating wellness offerings, such as spa treatments, fitness facilities and healthy dining options, into their services.

Amidst these trends, one thing remains constant – the warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage that define the region.

Sustainability, inclusivity and responsible tourism are topical issues. How do they fit into the Accor offering?

At Accor, sustainability, inclusivity and responsible tourism are guiding principles that shape everything we do. We are dedicated to making a meaningful diªerence in the world, while providing exceptional hospitality experiences for our guests. We recognize our responsibility to minimize our environmental footprint and contribute positively to the communities where we operate. Through sustainability initiatives, we are committed to reducing energy consumption, waste generation and water usage across our properties.

Inclusivity is also paramount at Accor. We believe that everyone deserves to feel welcome and valued, regardless of their background or identity. Our diverse workforce reflects this commitment.

Moreover, responsible tourism is central to our approach. We work closely with local communities to promote cultural preservation, support economic development and minimize our impact on fragile ecosystems. By engaging in sustainable practices and supporting social initiatives, we aim to leave a positive legacy for future generations.

What’s on the horizon for Accor?

Our vision is to strengthen the footprint of our brands and work toward our ambition to develop the largest and best performing integrated hospitality ecosystem in the world.

In MEA APAC, we will continue to grow through strategic expansion, stakeholder value enhancement and investment in our people. We will prioritize operational excellence and remain committed to supporting growth markets in MEA and APAC.

Innovation and technology optimization will be central to our approach as we adapt to evolving industry landscapes and guest expectations. Together, we will continue to elevate the guest experience, while maximizing returns for our investors and creating meaningful opportunities for our teams.


Website Icon png images | PNGEggaccor.com 


For more news click here

Add to Favorites
About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *