Enhancing the travel experience in the new customer-centric phase for the rail industry

In the last decade the Travel & Tourism industry faced revolutionary challenges that are still transforming all its sectors. The report “Reinventing rail in Europe – The battle for the customer” released by Amadeus in October describes how rail doesn’t have to escape to this change and to reengage with the costumer.

Competition is fierce, both inside the sector where new operators are challenging the incumbents along with expected new virtual rail operators, and outside, such as air, long-range bus services and car sharing.

According to the report, the rail operators should reinvent themselves with a customer-centric approach, like it happened in the early 2000 to the telecom industry.

Technology is the main enabler in the costumer revolution to develop faster, safer and more comfortable services. While new infrastructure like High Speed Rail (HSR) are vital, keywords are personalization, where data-driven insights can provide appealing experiences, mobile and merchandising, if inspired by brands like Airbnb, Netflix or Uber. Customers demands and expects services that work for them.

Political issues, national fragmentations and infrastructure are barriers that the rail sector should face to improve its performances.

Rail stations must be part of the same process of focusing on the customer and “will become destinations and lifestyle centers” as described by Arup in “Future of Train 2050”.

The battle for the customer is ongoing and there is so much to do to gain customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and revenue growth.

Eurostar was awarder Europe’s Leading Passenger Rail Operator 2016 at the World Travel Awards Winner Shield 2016, overcoming Deutsche Bahn, Russian Railways (JSC Federal Passenger Company) and SNCF.

At Twissen we observed that there is room for alliances and for developing dynamic packaging, just like Eurostar and Lastminute.com have already experimented.

There’s a growing competition – like the budget bus travel boom in France reported by Skift – but also growing interest, such as the Interrail passes, investments in infrastructures and new platform, such as GoEuro, the Berlin (Germany) based airline, bus, car and rail booking site that according to CB insight in October raised $70 million in funding ($145 million to date).