In a head-scratcher move, Orient-Express Hotels this month ditched its name denoting luxury and sophistication in travel for the more prosaic Belmond moniker.
The transformation is reminiscent of the morphing of Kraft snack foods unit to samba sounding Mondelez International. Mondelez, at the very least, has a rhythm to it. What does Belmond mean?
Belmond says its new name “will heighten awareness of our exceptional collection of hotels and luxury travel experiences among existing and potential new guests.” How?
My hunch is the company wants to lure Latin speakers to its hotels since they will be the only ones to understand that Belmond means “beautiful” and “world” in their ancient language.
The Wall Street Journal today speculated that Belmond wants to attract younger travelers than its average 55-year-old visitor. That seems a stretch. The bulk of high-end travelers pick accommodations according to corporate arrangements and loyalty programs.
Belmond’s 45-member collection of iconic hotels, cruises and trains are better suited for the super affluent who appreciate the value of the Orient-Express brand.
Another reason not to adopt the name Belmond: the company runs the Venice Simplon-Orient Express train, which represents “the golden age of travel.” Destinations are London, Paris, Venice, Prague, Vienna, Istanbul and St. Petersburg.
Belmond, which was established 30 years ago with the acquisition of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, has terminated its agreement with France’s national railroad SNCF, to end the license deal for the name Orient-Express for hotel use. That’s a golden opportunity for a savvy marketing company.
To its credit, Belmond has retained the right to use Orient-Express for its railroad.