The expansion adds 22 Nikko properties – all 21 hotels throughout Japan and one in China (the 616-room Quingdao Hai Tian Hotel on China’s north-east coast).
Commenting the development, Le Méridien managing director, Middle East and West Asia, Michel Noblet said: “Our relationship with Nikko has had an extremely positive impact on Le Méridien’s business. We are delighted to be able to further strengthen our alliance now by including all hotels in Japan.
“The partnership, now in its second year, has been so fruitful for both companies and this new phase will offer guests even greater convenience and choice in their travel planning. We are well aware that what benefits our guests will also benefit both of our companies.”
Le Méridien and Nikko Hotels International signed their historic global sales, marketing and reservations alliance on April 3, 2000, initially encompassing all Nikko Hotels properties outside of Japan – in Europe, North and Central America and Asia Pacific. Since then, Le Méridien has recorded a 30 percent increase in its business from the hospitality industry’s important Japanese market.
Specifically, Le Méridien’s Japanese customer base was nine per cent of its total business, with the aim of increasing that figure to 12 per cent within three years. Just 15 months into the alliance, the increase is already 11 per cent – representing an increase of 125,000 room nights.
“Japan is now our third revenue-generating market and we have outperformed the competition, “added Noblet. “This could not have happened without our partnership with Nikko Hotels.
According to Russel Sharpe, Le Meridien’s senior vice president sales and marketing, Middle East & West Asia, the increase has resulted from several sales and marketing initiatives Le Méridien implemented shortly after the alliance began. “Joint marketing initiatives, such as a Japanese version of its hotel directory targeted at key corporate accounts and leisure operators in Japan and an increasing presence at travel trade shows and joint road shows in Japan, have been key to the success.”
The two companies have also linked their web sites.
Staying with marketing tactics, the JAL Mileage Bank loyalty programme has also provided Le Méridien with a 42 per cent increase in the number of Japanese stays at its properties in the UK, France, Italy and Spain.
“Through inclusion in Le Méridien’s promotions, the alliance has given Nikko Hotels wide exposure in markets such as Africa, parts of Europe and here in the Middle East, where Nikko doesn’t have properties,” explained Sharpe. “Just one example of this successful relationship is that Le Méridien’s sales force has booked group business for Nikko Hotels properties, in one case alone worth about $500,000 of revenue.”
In one promotion, Le Méridien included appropriate Nikko properties in its seasonal Le Méridien Passport sales promotion programme, which resulted in sales of nearly 10,000 room nights worth $1.5 million in revenue. While, Nikko has bagged 58 new corporate accounts and 32 new wholesaler accounts.
“We have more ambitious plans, which include the exchange of staff and closer distribution channels, such as reservations and loyalty programs, plus increased joint sales activity,” concluded Sharpe.
The alliance gives Le Méridien an enhanced presence in Asia Pacific and areas of North and Central America (such as San Francisco and Mexico City), resulting in a combined marketing portfolio of 169 hotels in 63 countries and territories. For Nikko, it offers an increased presence in Europe where Le Méridien currently has 48 hotels.
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