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Thu 31 Aug 2006 08:00 PM

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Starwood prepares for relaunch of its Le Meridien brand

Senior executives at Starwood are working towards relaunching the Le Meridien brand in 2007 with a more energised look and feel aimed at awakening the curiosity of its hotel guests.

US-based Starwood acquired the European Le Meridien brand in March, and has already begun work on how to best position the brand, both within its portfolio of products and on the global stage.

The company has brought in Eva Zeigler, a branding expert, to oversee the transition. Zeigler joined Le Meridien as senior vice president in March.

Her previous branding experience includes working for Toyota, Coca Cola and Saatch & Saatchi, and she aims to transfer some of her branding knowledge to the hotel industry.

“It is simple to transfer this [knowledge] to a hotel brand. Branding all starts and ends with the consumer.

“It is about making an emotional connection, and works on the same principals of understanding the customer and then delivering something better,” Zeigler told Hotelier Middle East.

Zeigler is now working with senior executives at Starwood and Le Meridien to offer solutions on enhancing the brand, but as she points out, this is not about wiping the slate clean and starting again. “When you enhance a brand you cannot ignore the past.This brand has existed since 1972 — it has heritage,” she said.

It is this heritage that Zeigler is now pulling on, as she aims to refine Le Meridien and maximise on its European roots. “We want to awaken the curiosity of the guest. Our passion points are the arts, architecture, food and design — all things Europe is famous for,” she explained.

The changes to the guest will be subtle ones, aimed at enhancing operations excellence, building brand strength and focusing on dynamic growth. Meanwhile, Zeigler also has a second set of consumers to sell Le Meridien to — existing Starwood associates. The first stage of this internal branding was rolled out at the annual Starwood executive congress, held at Grosvenor House and Le Royal Meridien Dubai last month. Over 350 Starwood executives from across the world met to discuss branding philosophy, strategies and service initiatives at the sixday event.

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