Raffles Hotel keeps its name

Parent company, however, quietly changes name to Beach Road Hotel

He had initially thought Singapore’s grand dame Raffles Hotel was to be renamed Beach Road Hotel, after reading a memo last month from the hotel to its tenants.

Tenants were told to address their cheques to Beach Road Hotel (1886) Ltd instead of Raffles Hotel (1886) Ltd.

As the letter “wasn’t very clear”, the employee checked with the hotel’s management and learnt that the iconic establishment on Beach Road would retain its name, although its company name would change.

“It’s important for tenants, because when you tell people you’re at Raffles Hotel, there’s a certain degree of prestige,” said the employee of one of the hotel’s tenants.

While the majority of tenants MediaCorp spoke to were not too perturbed by the change, one store manager said: “It was a name that was prestigious; now it’s just normal.”

Raffles Hotel – reportedly bought last year by sovereign wealth fund Qatari Diar for US$275 million ($355 million) – declined to comment on the change. It also refused to comment on its current ownership. Attempts to contact Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, owned by Qatar Investment Authority, were unsuccessful.

Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority documents and directory showed that the company’s Nov 16 application to change its name has been approved.

Company name changes can be tricky, said Mr Jorg Dietzel, who runs a regional branding group. “Companies do that to align their brands, but they often forget that names are assets when established in consumers’ minds.”

Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, who specialises in marketing at the NUS Business School, felt that acquisition purposes could have been behind the company’s name change. “Maybe they want to acquire a few more buildings in the area,” she said.

The new name would also distinguish the hotel from its parent company.

But the change would not be significant for shareholders and consumers, given its relative low visibility, she added.

Source : Today – 14 Jan 2011

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