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Clearly, the $928 billion global travel industry knows what it's doing.
From trendy concert spaces to new, modern furnishings and even boutique exercise classes, hotels around the country and the world are ushering in a new generation of travelers — millennials — with 21st century amenities, entertainment and even apps. Free Wi-Fi just doesn't cut it anymore. Hotels — at least larger ones — are recognizing that it's time to meet the demands of a new and different consumer.
It comes at no surprise, then, that an enormous brand like Le Méridien would be trying to get in on the millennial game. But partnering with Lego? Now, that's an unexpected move that positions the brand to dominate the previously-unexplored single-digit age bracket.
Here's how the partnership works: Upon arrival at any of their hotels around the world, children will be presented with either a LEGO snail or Go-Kart "welcome amenity." The Go-Kart Racer is intended for older children, made up of 45 small pieces (including a cute stoplight) that would undoubtedly be hazardous to the youngest set. Meanwhile, children ages 18 months through 5 years will receive the much larger 6-piece DUPLO snail set.
This reporter will have you know that the snail set is adorable. Ahem. Scientifically-speaking, of course.
And the sets are expected to evolve and change over time, so even the most well-traveled kids in the world — we're looking at you, military families — don't have to worry about (gasp!) getting the same toy twice.
Brian Povinelli, senior vice president and global brand leader for Le Méridien and Westin, clarified that this isn't an entirely out-of-the-blue program. The brand has been trying to transform itself for over ten years.
"From éclairs that incorporate local ingredients — think darjeeling-jaggery éclairs in India and coffee-chicory éclairs in New Orleans — to partnerships with artists, chefs, and musicians, the brand’s goal is to inspire the creative, curious-minded traveler," he told TODAY via email.
That's all very well and good (especially the bit about the coffee-chicory éclairs), but what do children have to do with it? According to Povinelli, the ultimate goal is to show both parents and children that "travel can be both fun and educational." And choosing whether to leave the kids at home is a choice that millennials are going to be making with more ease now that cellphones and email allow them to be in closer contact with baby sitters and other part-time caregivers.
The Lego toys for children are just the first aspects of the larger Le Méridien Family Program to be premiered. The rest of that initiative will debut this fall and focus on creative new experiences for whole families.
"We know that these Legos will spark imaginations at our hotels and resorts globally and encourage free play and foster connections between kids and parents alike," Povinelli concluded.
Can we have one?