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Belmond: Marketing Luxury Rail Travel to a New Generation

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The client is a UK-based publicly-traded firm operating a portfolio of iconic properties and travel experiences, including 7 multinational rail services throughout UK, Europe, Peru and Southeast Asia. Suddenly, traditional, utility-based, travel marketing stood in contrast to the emerging trend of consumers valuing experience over utility, well displayed in the new generations of travelers. The firm reached out to Criterion Global with questions on how to approach luxury rail travel marketing in a new generation.


Boutique hotels have transformed the hospitality industry, and been embraced by a younger, style-conscious traveler empowered by a culture of aesthetic relevancy and immediate gratification in service. This empowered consumer challenges brands to inspire, even as they must meet objectives in reaching capacity and selling advanced bookings. In contrast, traditional transportation and travel marketing focuses on utility. As with cruises, train marketing must remember that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters.


Criterion Global engineered the firm’s first entirely digital media strategy. Consumer audiences were cross-sectioned by age, income and interest and targeted through advanced consumer modeling practices.

This digital content comprised a series of short film vignettes, starring a glamorous, globe-trotting fictional family. This strategy allowed for a wide array of digital content – mini-films and photo galleries, and a strategic partnership with a luxury e-tailer to showcase video campaigns – to gave life to train travel.

Creative easily aligned with media, with each film built around the demographics and interests of our target consumer to effectively convey unique luxury experiences available through the brand’s distinctive railway journeys.


The campaign was both successful in sales, and fresh, winning Best Digital Campaign in the UK by the Travel Marketing Awards. Memorably, the campaign achieved:

Engagement metrics an average of 8x higher than industry standards, based on CTR and conversion rates, social metrics and a double-blind study commissioned by Ipsos.

The campaign generated nearly half a billion impressions and reached 80 million people with 75% higher interaction times.