EyeforTravel Amsterdam

November 2018, Amsterdam

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Eurail and Loco2 outline two routes to rail revamps

Rail travel speakers from EyeforTravel’s upcoming Amsterdam conference share insights into how they are looking to get more customers on the track

Same mode of transport, but fascinatingly different sources of marketing inspiration! Change is very much the order of the day for the international online communications of both train booking platform Loco2 and European train pass group Eurail. Yet, routes to revamps they’ve chosen, which they will share at Amsterdam, are at pole ends of the spectrum: technology seems at the forefront at Loco2 while Eurail’s delving includes old-fashioned newspapers! (You can also sign up for tomorrow's webinar to hear more from Loco2)

Such diversity of approach is hardly surprising in a world market as big as rail - growing at around six percent a year, and forecast (by US-based Grand View Research) to reach $830 billion by 2025. Asia, particularly India and China, are pouring money into lines. Statistics on the billions of people travelling globally can only be guestimates, but all research says the numbers could be higher since rail is preferred as a less stressed alternative to air and on environmental grounds vs the car. 

Rail would be more popular, research from American Express says, except it “frequently lacks the booking capabilities that exist with air, making it more challenging to incorporate rail into the booking gateway, particularly when cross-border travel is involved.” But this is just the sort of opportunity that is being seized by Loco2 and Eurail.

Newspapers rule

As part of its website’s revamp Eurail turned to newspapers to find, says Roel Verhagen, head of Eurail e-Commerce, how a newspaper can create so many new stories and pictures each day. Verghagen, who will be speaking in Amsterdam, comments: “Most websites can learn a lot from them!”

What followed, he adds, was the recognition by Eurail’s content team, the so-called Content Power House, that "the site needed more structure.” 

Eurail’s target was to attract and engage people of all ages and backgrounds to travel by train in Europe by “creating and optimising content on our website”. According to Verhagen, the best way was to emulate the newspapers and to find out how by working with a journalist and learning the skills of the trade!

The journalist explained the process, which helped to support the transformation of Eurail’s website – more from Verhagen on this in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, the group is looking for interns with social media, writing and research skills who love to travel!

A revolutionary first   

At Loco2, an online booking service for rail in the UK and Europe, there has been an ambitious and far-reaching overhaul. New CEO David Ashton explains that the app has been completely revamped and is now so revolutionary that by the end of this year no one in the industry will have seen anything like it! Quite a claim!

“Basically it will provide you with prices lower than anyone's seen before, with all tickets delivered directly to your mobile device, “ says Ashton, who will reveal more in Amsterdam.

Loco2 had an absolutely frenetic 2017, being taken over by the Voyages-SNCF of France, which sells passes and point-to-point tickets for rail travel around Europe and has links with Europe’s major rail operators. It also released an iPad version of its iOS application, which joined its iPhone and Android apps to make it easier to book trains on the go.

And it hired Ashton, an ex-Silicon Valley and travel industry veteran who re-based his family and four kids to France some years back; he previously co-founded Paris-based ride-hailing company SnapCar.

The pace at Loco2 has been fast in 2018, too, and there have been lots of updates, changes and innovations happening behind the scenes this year too, which will be revealed shortly.” While he is not giving much away about the new app, a peek at the Loco2 website gives a few more clues.

By the end of this year no one in the industry will have seen anything like it!

As he describes it: “This launch will make Loco2 the only place where, in one transaction, you’ll be able to book multi-leg national and international trips and then travel with tickets on your phone! We’re giving you paperless, environmentally friendly, seamless and (since you’re on a train) stylish travel in the UK and across Europe. Mobile tickets save time by letting you beat the queues and bypass the ticket machines. They’ll be accepted by every operator that accepts mobile tickets.

Also, trying to inspire travellers, the blurb continues: “The only question left to ask is where will your mobile tickets be taking you? We’ve got some great ideas for weekend getaways by rail or even taking the train to some of Europe’s best cycling routes”.

Sadly, in some places printed tickets are still a must, so Loco2 will still email those to travellers. However, what you can be certain of, he says, is that “if a UK or European rail operator supports mobile tickets then they’re covered in the Loco2 Universal Mobile Ticket”. That includes the vast majority of the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, and will soon include Benelux, Austria, Switzerland and a bunch of other places you think about going to a lot but almost never do.”

 And, if it is on the mobile, there is no charge!

Lastly, when will the Universal Mobile Ticket become available? His answer: “As soon as the UK rail governing body (RDG: Rail Delivery Group) gives its formal approval. Shouldn’t be long now - they’re pretty nice.”

Join us in Amsterdam (November 28-29) to hear more about the fast-moving rail industry from Eurail and Loco2, as well as from Trainline, Deutsche Bahn and Heathow Express. Or, if you haven't already sign up for tomorrow's webinar 

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