Starwood recently announced new a family program at more than 300 Le Méridien and Westin properties around the world.
My initial reaction was quite skeptical because the Le Méridien properties I’ve stayed at did not strike me as “family” hotels.
I was emailing with Ben about the new program and thought he summed it up well:
Yeah, LM never really struck me as specifically targeting families, but that might explain why they’re doing this campaign. Now that I think about it, I’m not actually sure who LM has been trying to target. They are clearly going for some French branding (at least based on the name), but in practice there’s really nothing unique about the chain.
The full press release has more information about the new programs which include kids clubs, welcome gifts, free food for kids and discounts on additional rooms at Westin and Le Méridien hotels. It’s clear this new campaign represents a big investment from both brands.
Up to 50% off a second room
While the kids clubs and family focused branding are interesting, the more important element of this campaign is an opportunity to save money:
Westin and Le Méridien have introduced a global family package, where children eat free and have complimentary access to kids clubs, and families can receive a discount when booking a second room or have the option to book connecting rooms, based on availability.
The family package is available at select Le Méridien and Westin properties using the code FAMPKS. And while the discount varies from property to property, most of the 10 I checked had a discount of 50% off for the second room.
7 of the 10 properties I checked offer 50% off for an additional room. The other three (LM Panama, LM Delfina Santa Monica and LM Chicago Oakbrook Center) had 25% discounts instead.
It’s also worth pointing out the rate for this promotion matched the standard flexible rate for all but one of the 10 properties I checked. So, this doesn’t look like a situation where the hotels are using an inflated rate before “discounting” the second room with the promo.
There is an age restriction on the discounted second room:
Le Meridien Family Package 50 percent off second room and kids eat free. Second room (connecting if available) at a 50% discount for kids up to 21 years. Kids under 12 eat free from the kids menu (with purchase of adult meal, 1 child per paying adult.) Free Kids Club access for 2 kids daily. If different room types booked, discount applied to lower room type at check-in.
Finally, I did notice the family package was not available at some properties on certain dates. And the Westin Maui Resort and Spa was listed as a participating property but didn’t have any days where the promo was available.
Making family travel more than just kids clubs
I totally understand the draw of kids clubs and think they can be a great option when they provide opportunities to play and make new friends while on the road. And the images of the kids club Le Méridien is showing online look pretty cool.
That said, my family doesn’t typically use them. My youngest isn’t usually old enough. And even if she was, our family trips revolve around the girls. Our goal is to spend more time together than we typically get to at home because of work, school, etc.
I think it’s kind of cool Westin and Le Méridien are giving kids travel guides and family travel journals to encourage families to get out and discover the local destination together. Our kids love to be in charge of the map as we explore and I know they’d be excited to have guides that are geared toward them.
LEGO toys for kids
I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently Le Méridien teamed up with LEGO back in July to offer a toy to any kid checking in who is under the age of 12.
I really like the idea of linking LEGO and travel. When we arrived in Sydney, my oldest saw the Opera House and called it “Daddy’s LEGO building” because she helped me with the large model below.
I think LEGO toys are a really cool element of this new family marketing campaign and I can see my girls keeping them as a reminder of a fun family trip.
The more I dig into this promotion, the more I think Starwood got it right. From offering additional space at a discount to a welcome amenity for kids, they are taking care of the parents and the kids. That’s the smart way to target traveling families. I’m curious to try out one of these properties and see how this campaign is implemented.