Eurostar, the high-speed train system that transports passengers between the UK and the Continent, has been able to demonstrate consistently strong sales even during times of economic difficulty. Analysts point to a variety of reasons for this, including the relative strength of the euro, increased difficulty with air travel, and periodic lead-in fares to keep demand alive and bring in new travellers.
For example, 2011’s third quarter results showed a seven percent increase in sales revenues and an increase in passenger numbers of one percent over the same period in the prior year. Nicolas Petrovic, Eurostar’s Chief Executive, said, “We have delivered a solid performance during both the third quarter and the year as a whole although the tough trading environment across Europe demands a cautious watching brief. Since the beginning of the year we have seen growth in both our sales revenues and passenger numbers reinforcing our popularity with regular and new travellers alike.”
Eurostar recently launched a free mobile app allowing passengers to book trips from their computer, tablet, or smartphone, with the ticket delivered electronically to the device. Wi-Fi connectivity and infotainment is being rolled out to the fleet of high-speed trains, and the ‘digital experience’ is being promoted in the stations themselves. All of these initiatives are part of Eurostar’s £700m investment programme to add digital content and convenience throughout its system.
In addition, Eurostar recently finalised a cross-European marketing agreement in an effort to create a unified approach throughout its various markets. The 2012 agreement with AMV BBDO is to develop a suite of communications for markets in the UK, Belgium, and France, with the first campaign set to be unveiled in late 2012.
Prior successful campaigns have included partnering with BEcause to highlight Eurostar’s commitment to sustainable travel. Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme brought a new travelling segment to the company, and they now plan to leverage those new customers with the implementation of the marketing plan. Prior marketing strategies have been uniquely focused on each market, ranging from “edgy” for the Continental market to more mainstream and product-focussed for the UK market. The new plan will focus on a unified strategy focussing on how Eurostar brings “people, places, and cultures together.”
The 2012 Olympics provide another opportunity on which Eurostar can capitalise. With tens of thousands of tourists expected to be arriving in the UK, Eurostar positioned itself as a corporate sponsor of the Games with the theme “opening the way”. Eurostar’s focus on its ability to transport people safely and quickly is expected to pay dividends not only during the months leading up to and during the Games, but afterward as well. Many people who use the trains for the first time during the event are expected to continue using them if Eurostar can continue to deliver on its adverts.
Eurostar has also invested in a new customer service training programme, Advantage, that is expected to play a key part in increasing market share even as rival service operators roll out schedules throughout the EU.