Accor Hotels – Winestone Brand

I haven’t moaned about anything recently….

I just stumbled across the marketing materials for the Winestone brand, a mostly Polish restaurant brand (there’s one in Singapore as well and perhaps elsewhere) that Accor have introduced. Indeed, they’re trying to franchise it now, although goodness knows who would take one on.

The aim was to create a community restaurant that was popular with guests of the hotel, but also appealed to local people. So, to encourage people to try Polish food and drink, they gave it a French theme and shoved some Polish dishes on the menu. Oh, and “it’s served on stone platters – the latest trend in French cuisine”. I spent some time Googling this to see if this was the latest trend, but the only results I found were for Accor hotels in Poland.

Actually, on this, I’ve never heard of this being the latest trend. I had a look at six Accor hotels in Paris (OK, I have too much time at the moment) of various brands within the group, but none of them appear to have heard of this exciting new concept. They use what I would call a plate. Indeed, they seem to like plates.

Anyway, I’ve never thought much about Winestone, other than I don’t like it, it’s a dated and boring concept to me which is entirely at odds with many of the on-trend hotels that Accor put them in. I’ve only just realised that Accor have been pouring resources into this concept, with social media at its heart. It’s evident that plan won’t work, the concept is tired and formulaic, so I was moderately pleased to note that my theory about this is visible by Accor delighted with their under 4,000 social media fans they have obtained. 4,000? To be fair, their Facebook page has limped up to 4,400 likes but their engagement on posts is nearly zero. This is not an on-trend brand.

This is why the brand doesn’t appeal to me personally (but I’m sure it appeals to very many people, I accept my requirements are a bit niche), they’ve got 22 wines, a section on other alcoholic beverages and they’ve shoved beer under soft and hot drinks. Which is why I’m not entirely surprised that the Winestone at ibis Styles Warszawa Centrum manages to have the exciting choice of one generic lager. I had Pepsi instead and that was served without ice or a slice (I don’t much care about that, but for such a formulaic restaurant, they normally get that bit right).

As an aside, the Winestone at Mercure Ursus Warsaw was well managed with a decent beer and food of a very acceptable quality. But, the concept didn’t appeal to me, I just went because it was attached to the hotel and they gave me 10% off.

There is a craft beer section on the menu at the Ibis Styles, but they seem to have got bored of that and didn’t have any. And, in any event, craft beer shouldn’t be on a menu, it should be chalked up if done properly to add a bit of theatre. Which is half the problem they’ve now got, their attempt to localise the food and drink offering has failed as nearly all the drinks are imported, when they’ve got tens of craft beer breweries nearby to them. And, yes, this is a complaint at their lack of engagement with beer drinkers, or indeed, those wanting soft drinks that aren’t generic brands.

Marvellous, how much bloody wine are they trying to flog to customers?

Just as an aside, the craft beer bar I went to earlier today, PiwPaw, has 6,500 Facebook followers for just its one location. You could, within a year, shut down one of these countless Winestones, get a craft beer bar in and get locals coming through the door and the social media numbers they’ve failed to get after over five years of pushing this brand for all its worth.

I’ll make one of my predictions. Which are often, but not always, wrong. I would bet that Accor ditch this brand within the next five years, bringing in a new brand that actually does offer something different, something which will bring locals in and get them returning, something which people talk about on-line and follow on social media. It’ll be craft beer related with proper locally made beers and a food menu which is packed with locally sourced food, brought in via the in-house chef and not shipped in centrally. Food which isn’t served on slates, but which is served on plates and they’ll print the producer of the food, whether it’s bread, meat or cheese, on the menu as they’ll be proud of its origins. They’ll also refocus on vegetarian and vegan food with a new energy, all combined to match their on-trend hotels and designs.