John M. Scott, president and chief executive officer of Orient Express Hotels, chats with Travel Daily about the recent launch of the ‘Belmond’ brand…
Q) You recently launched the new Belmond brand; from where did the name derive, and what impact do you expect it to have on your products?
Derived from the Latin words for ‘beautiful’ and ‘world’, we have chosen the name Belmond as we believe it embraces all that is unique and exceptional about our diverse collection of hotels, river cruisers, trains and safaris.
The enhanced branding of each property will see the name Belmond sitting alongside each property as a complementary extension of their own identity for example, Belmond El Encanto, Belmond Safaris, Belmond Hotel Cipriani and Belmond Royal Scotsman.
Each individual property will benefit from our investment in our new brand strategy which seeks to strengthen awareness and reach of each product across the collection and therefore increase cross visitation between the products.
Q) In terms of your hotels, why did you decide to rebrand them under the Belmond name, rather than amplifying the well-known Orient-Express brand?
The migration to Belmond is intended to increase consumer recognition of the marketplace, thereby attracting new guests and stimulating increased visits across the broad scope of the company’s unique collection of exceptional hotels and travel experiences from its existing customer base.
Belmond was chosen after extensive research and evaluation of a number of alternatives – including the options of investing in our existing Orient-Express brand. The decision to move to the new name enables us to create an awareness that we are a collection of diverse travel experiences under a brand identity that we fully own and can grow and invest in with confidence.
We are extremely proud of the legacy we have created under the name Orient Express and delighted that we continue our relationship with SNCF through the extended long term lease of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Q) Will anything change under the new name, in terms of brand promises, products and services?
Belmond genuinely builds on our legacy and so is defined by our values of delight, discovery, authenticity and character. A successful brand always evolves and this will be the same with the Belmond brand. We are committed to ensuring Belmond continues to be exciting and relevant to our customer experiences; consistently and thoughtfully embraced by staff, and embodies our corporate philosophy and future.
We see our guests as co-travellers on our journey and will invite them to play an active role in defining and developing Belmond. By raising consumer awareness of Belmond and the properties and experiences within it, we hope to more easily introduce our existing and future guests to our inspiring and enriching collection of exceptional hotels and travel experiences.
Q) Rebranding a global collection of 45 hotels, trains and cruises is a big job – how long do you expect the whole process to take?
We will invest US$5 million in launching the brand in the first year and a further US$10m is expected to be invested over the next four – this will be a steady and strategic implementation and marketing campaign.
This brand investment will include new website platforms, re-engineered customer relationship management and the Company’s first ever large-scale print and media advertising campaign.
Q) Building on the new brand name, do you have any major plans to expand your portfolio?
We are, of course, always open to adding to our portfolio of inspiring and exceptional hotels and travel experiences. We anticipate that the almost immediate transformation of our existing portfolio to the Belmond brand and marketing strategy will be a very compelling opportunity to third party luxury hotel owners as not only will they be joining a stable of iconic properties, they will also benefit from the substantial investment we are making in the