I attended the 2017 edition of the ILTM Conference in Cannes, where I had the occasion to discover exciting developments in the luxury hotel world. Luxury hotel brands often play a fine gamble between maintaining a core brand identity through a historically iconic collection while seeking to reinterpret and translate that identity into new locations around the world. One excellent example of a global luxury hotel brand that has done this with great success is the French brand AccorHotels, which recently announced its acquisition of the legendary railway hotel: the Orient Express.
Below you will find my conversation on this subject with Chris Cahill, CEO of Luxury Brands for AccorHotels. He discusses the challenges of integrating the Orient-Express into the brand identity of the larger Accor portfolio.
The challenges of acquiring the Orient-Express
There are many processes involved in refining brand position of an iconic brand. If you look at global research, there’s very high awareness of the Orient Express in almost every market. But if you go a little deeper, it’s tied to the railway, and then it stops. One of the things we’re engaged in, in terms of research but also brand positioning, is making sure that we can leverage this awareness into a hotel space, and that has a lot to do with how we end up treating the physical aspects of the hotel, as well as the service offerings.
I would expect that once we close the transaction, which we’re working on now, there will be a short period of time to get alignment with the shareholders in terms of the positioning. We’d probably look to start going full steam in March. In terms of talking to developers, our Development team are pounding the door every day to ask for more information because people are asking about it from the outside, but we want to make sure we do the appropriate amount of research because we only have one shot at launching the brand.
We want to clear on the best opportunities. We have the Fairmont brand, the Raffles brand, and the Sofitel brand, so we want to make sure that this brand is properly positioned so that it’s not going to cannibalize the others. I would say that in Spring—March or April—hopefully there will be a much more concrete plan in development.
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Known for his international expertise on luxury hotels through his magazine, Laurent Delporte shares his vision and experiences in the world of hotels on his site DELPORTE Hospitality. He decodes the behind-the-scenes action in the sector: from food and beverage facilities, accommodations, architecture, to the quality of services. He offers interviews, advice, and articles as pragmatic resources that industry professionals and private individuals can refer to in their search for information.