Latecomers to the luxury market in China face an uphill battle.
Orient Express, a high-end hospitality brand that is better known for its exclusive luxury trains, plans to raise its profile with wealthy Chinese through purchasing or managing a hotel in Shanghai.
In a country where people are obsessed with the best the renminbi can buy, the super luxe Orient-Express could win over customers. However, the brand needs to overcome the image the Chinese associate with train travel.
Indeed, Orient-Express has a number of very valuable properties such as the historic Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, a beautiful place to remember things of the past at the southern tip of Africa.
But the brand is closely associated with its iconic train journeys, the London to Venice Orient Express (which runs through Istanbul once a year).
In China, train travel is almost never seen as a leisure vacation — a place to relax and enjoy the scenery, eat a luxury meal, or spend £1,800 per person for a one day and one night trip. Rather, trains exist to transport. This time of the year when tens of millions of Chinese are migrating home for Chinese New Year, this is especially evident.
Orient-Express’ interest in China is long-term and strategic and is more about wooing Chinese tourists to the resorts, hotels, and trains it operates abroad then merely acquiring or operating properties in China itself.
photo credit: orient express