Orient-Express will spend $15 million rebranding its hotels under the new name Belmond.
The company says the new name is “designed to increase brand recognition in order to drive growth by attracting new guests and stimulating visits from existing customers across the breadth of iconic hotel and travel collection”.
It expects to invest US$5 million in the new brand during its first year, with a further $10 million expected to be invested over the subsequent four years. the rebrand is effective from March 10 2014.
John M. Scott, president and chief executive officer of Orient-Express Hotels, said: “We are excited to launch the Belmond brand, which will heighten awareness of our exceptional collection of hotels and luxury travel experiences among existing and potential new guests. Our new brand strategy is designed to build on our strong legacy and celebrate the individuality and character of our properties, as well as stimulate increased stays across the breadth of our portfolio from our existing client base. Strengthening our brand architecture will also make the company attractive to property owners as we advance in our strategy of expanding into the third-party management of assets that complement our existing collection.”
“Extending our global brand presence by having a name that will be associated as much with our hotels and river cruises as with our celebrated train experiences is a key step in our focus of generating enhanced revenue. Migrating from a licensed brand to one which we fully own and control will, we believe, deliver an additional benefit to the Company as it will enable us to invest with confidence in our brand,” added Scott.
Chief sales and marketing officer Ralph Aruzza said: “Belmond was chosen after extensive research and evaluation of a number of alternatives in order to identify a name that resonates well with our guests and that encompasses the global collection of unique experiences we are today. We will establish Belmond by investing $5 million in enhanced promotional and marketing initiatives during its first year, with an additional $10 million over subsequent years. This investment will include new website platforms, re-engineered customer relationship management tools, and the company’s first ever large-scale print and online media advertising campaign.”
The Orient-Express hotel portfolio includes Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire and Reid’s Palace in Madeira.
I think I might be missing the point here. Orient-Express is one of the most recognisable brands in the luxury hospitality and travel space, steeped in history and synonymous with elegance and luxury.
Its values seem a perfect fit for the exceptional properties in the portfolio such as Le Manoir and Reid’s Palace. The new name, Belmond, doesn’t really mean anything to me, although Orient-Express insists it has been chosen to “stimulate increased stays across the breadth of the portfolio”.
Orient-Express doesn’t really explain the reasoning behind the move in its statement, although I have heard unofficially that it is partly due to concern that the public identifies the brand with trains, and not with all the other experiences it offers.
I will be happy to be proved wrong if the new brand is a success, because I admire both the company’s properties and the way it runs them, but i can’t help feeling that letting go of such an evocative name is a mistake.