Hotel Online  Special Report



Le Meridien Hotels Pursues Seamless
Rebranding for Kuwait Properties
Kuwait, December 2003: Instant responses and constant communication to customers are key to the success of rebranding in Arabia’s competitive hospitality marketplace, according to Hannes Yaghi, general manager of Le Meridien Hotels in Kuwait.
He is currently overseeing the renovation and rebranding of Le Meridien Kuwait, the former Ritz hotel in Kuwait, as well as the launch of Le Meridien Safat, the group’s first Art + Tech hotel in the Middle East.

Yaghi said: “The training of the entire hotel team is important, and should focus on new brand standards, loyalty programmes, pricing strategies and brand characteristics. The learning curve will be steep, as changes will be extensive and staff must immerse themselves in the new brand.

Hannes Yaghi
General Manager
Le Meridien
 Hotels in Kuwait
“The principal objective is to ensure the rebranding is as seamless as possible, as well as maintain and grow occupancy.”

He explained that renovations need not be considered a hindrance, but rather an excuse to demonstrate the creation of a new product. “Renovations are an excellent reason to hold site inspections and fam trips for the travel trade as well as valued customers. It is a simple way of getting people into your property to experience the new brand and see the improvements first-hand.”

Meanwhile, Le Meridien Kuwait has hosted training sessions for sales and marketing personnel from three of the group’s Saudi properties, as they embark on rebranding exercises themselves.

The group has assumed management of the 189-room Le Meridien Medinah and the 111-room Le Meridien Taif in one of the group’s most rapid periods of country-specific growth in recent history. Le Meridien already manages the 329-room Le Gulf Meridien Al Khobar, the 284-room Le Jeddah Meridien and the 231-room Le Majd Meridien Makkah, which was added in June.

Yaghi said: “At Le Meridien Kuwait, we have been undergoing a steady period of rebranding since we took over management on January 1, and it has meant that the Le Meridien message has been disseminated to the media, and to the consumer, over almost 12 months in Kuwait.

“A seamless rebranding is crucial, to communicate new brand standards and promises of service delivery to your customers and competitors. Needless to say, rebranding can be more challenging than launching a new product, as you have to address existing perception.”

The refurbishment of Le Meridien Kuwait is one of five new projects over three years in the country, totalling almost 450 rooms. The expansion in Kuwait is line with the group’s aggressive growth in the region: it is one of the principal players in the Middle East with 27 properties – 20 per cent of the group’s total worldwide.

London-based Le Méridien is a global hotel group with a portfolio of over 135 luxury and upscale hotels (36,000 rooms) in 56 countries worldwide. The company also enjoys a strategic alliance with JAL-owned Nikko Hotels, providing loyal guests access to an additional 45 properties around the world.

Le Méridien
Also See: A’amal Hotels Company Appoints Le Meridien to Operate Ritz Kuwait; Will Convert to Art+Tech Designer Property / May 2003
The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Finance Assigns Two Management Contracts to Le Meridien; Hotels in Medinah and Taif / Aug 2003

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