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The World Passenger Festival invited me to chair the Commercial Strategy track on 17-18 Nov 2022 in Amsterdam. Out of the dozen speakers I’ve highlighted six below as they relate to the following key themes:

  • International: how railways are expanding across borders to accommodate international travelers
  • Intermodality: how railways are connecting to airlines and to ferries with unified search, booking, ticketing and payment
  • Customer loyalty: how railways are attracting travelers who have a choice of modes of transport
  • Retailing & ancillary: how railways are not only unbundling their product, but also enhancing it and even diversifying their business

Karol Martincek of the Slovak Railways introduced a new product taking passengers from Bratislava to Split in Croatia, via Austria and Slovenia. It is a direct night train. The decisive factor to compete with air travel and car was the addition of the motorail. Tourists arrive by train at their destination and with their car.

He sees a future where Lisbon connects to Warsaw and Athens to London with night trains.

Kurt Bauer of OBB, the Austrian Railways, argued that Austria, despite the mountainous geography, is the #2 country in Europe for rail usage after… Switzerland. His point about increasing rail usage is to provide a product that matches the travelers’ expectations: On-time, intermodal, safe, comfortable and affordable. OBB have even designed their own seats. OBB have introduced different types of night cabins and are able to push targeted special deals to customers.

Trenitalia’s Maurizio Mirone presented the new connections between rail and air, at Rome’s Fiumicimo Airport, and between rail and ferry in Napoli or in Villa S.G. to go to Sicily. They offer one booking and one ticket. I asked Maurizio about baggage transfer, he said it’s coming.

Dovilé Aleksandravičienė of LTGlink, the Lithuanian Railways, had a great definition for loyalty: the Love of the brand. Railways have an obvious advantage in a climate aware world. LTG link have included CO2 savings into the loyalty program to reward customers who saved more CO2. Loyalty points are a virtual money that contribute to reward CO2 savings.

Jasmine Sulaiman at Prasarana, the holding company that operates the Malaysian railways, explained how the company went beyond ancillaries to business diversification. The four pillars of “new business” are land, technology, advertising and retail (as in shops at the train stations). These pillars can combine together, for example land and retail. Prasarana provides land near the tracks or stations to farmers for “smart agriculture” and sell their products (vegetables etc.) at shops in the train stations.

On the retailing side,  Wiremind’s Rémi Habfast shared innovative railway yield management, which resonated with the air travel’s Dynamic Offer vision. WM have unbundled the trip to the basic “right-to-travel” (airlines’ right to fly) and combine it with ancillary sales and onboard sales, both  with continuous pricing. They optimize the total revenue, not only the travel right.

For more info on these examples and what they mean to travel providers, contact us at