Orient Express: Blogger outreach and my observations

Orient Express Blogger Outreach sign for the event

The other evening, I was invited to a blogger event held by the Orient Express group at their check-in lounge at London Victoria Station. It was a great event. Fun and I learnt a great deal.

I was already a fan of the company based on my experience on the amazing British Pullman Train “Golden Age of Travel” trip earlier in the year (see my review here) before attending the event. And, for years have been hankering to go on the actual Orient Express train, but not quite got to it yet. So I was intrigued about the event, and what they would have to share and discuss.

Other than having some tasty canapés and a few glasses of tasty Peach Bellini cocktails, what did I learn and observe about Orient Express company at the event?

1: Orient Express is so much more than just the iconic train that was made a household name through the famous Agatha Christie book. They also own over 40 hotels all over the world, run other trains in places like Peru and Asia and even own and run barges in France. Orient Express is a major and diverse travel company listed on the NYC stock exchange, created with the launch of the train in 1982.

2: Their portfolio of various hotels and other travel related properties ahem all been chosen based on a very clear guiding principle, which is about creating amazing and special travel experiences and being THE destination in their own right. They never buy a property or set up a travel experience unless they can make it special and unique. This includes places like Mount Nelson in Cape Town, the Eastern & Oriental train in Asia, Royal Scotsman train, Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg and Hotel Cipriani in Venice.

3: They tend not to push the Orient Express name to the forefront of their properties, other than the train. This means that people do not always know they are going to an Orient Express venue, something that they are looking to evolve and change so that people come to better understand their diversity, and the quality of what they offer. This is also a reason that they are starting to reach out and tell their story more broadly. They want people to understand that when they stay in an Orient Express property or travel with them, they understand that they will have elegance, style and a really unique travel experience and not just another sanitised or generic experience from yet another chain.

4: People are important. I was impressed by both the people I met and their passion, but also in the way they spoke about their places and also in their corporate materials it was very clear that people are central to what they do. They seem to have a lot of passion, and also a lot of scope to innovate and create. This I assume comes from their original creator of the company, who was bold enough to re-create the Orient Express from scratch. It was interesting that even at the event, instead of lots of presentations and formality, it was about chatting to the people and a short unscripted talk by the head of brands and a new corporate video showcasing their prized travel possessions. This showed again their passion for people and places.

5: They are open to experimenting and trying new things. They have embraced digital and social media, embracing and using Twitter and Facebook – as well as updating and restating their website and launching a past travellers club online. The blogger out-reach is part of this. They want to tell their stories and engage with people with passions for travel. 

I look forward to hearing more, and hopefully finally getting on that Orient Express train itself!

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 2 million video views per month.

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