Travelling by train is quite popular with people all over the world and it is ideal for tourists as train stations are often always situated in the middle of cities unlike airports. According to UNIFE World Rail Market Study, the global rail industry is currently worth €146 billion. The study also predicts that there would be an annual growth of 2.6% in the rail industry by 2017. Though the industry is flourishing, there is still a need to further improve the customer experience and this can be done by adopting the following practices.
Convenient Ticketing and Booking Solutions
Convenience is the most important aspect of traveling and the transport industry should be trying its best to come up with easy solutions for its customers. In today’s era, it is essential for any kind of service to have a strong online presence. This is necessary because people always take to the internet for any kind of information they require.
While choosing to travel by train, customers should not only be able to book tickets online but should also be allowed to get them delivered to their doorstep. It would improve the customer experience if printable tickets are sent to the customers. A great way to enhance customer loyalty is by offering discounts to customers who book online in advance.
Make the Journey Comfortable
Comfort is key while traveling and therefore, seats available in trains must be comfortable with sufficient legroom. Seating space should also be equipped with facilities for travelers. For example, the availability of ample power sockets would be a big help for customers who want to charge their phones or laptops while on the go. The train staff should also be polite and facilitating, offering passengers food and drinks after designated intervals. In case a passenger needs any assistance, rail staff should be trained to respond immediately and serve the customers in the best possible way. It is extremely important to have medical assistance onboard so that passengers can be helped in case of an emergency.
Like all other means of traveling, the rail car too, should be tidy and clean before the passengers get onboard. The environment should be aesthetically appealing to passengers with soothing music playing in the background.
Devise an App for Assistance
Being accessible is important and those in the rail industry should have apps to stay connected to customers. The app should contain detailed information of different routes and fares, allowing the user to access train schedules so that he/she can plan a journey with complete knowledge of how much it will cost and how much traveling time will be required. An app would be extremely helpful for customers, especially tourists as they would be able to access everything on their phones. Guidance can be provided to travelers at the train station through maps on the app.
The app should be designed to inform the customer about his/her journey schedules in case bookings have been made in advance. Updates and notifications would assist the passenger in arriving on time to the station. The app should also inform the users of any discounts available on their travel route so that they can avail these opportunities with ease.
Most train travels require a lot of time, especially if a person is traveling from one country to another. As the hours are long, there is a need to come up with solutions which would keep the customers busy and entertained. The train industry understands this and various rail services have started offering the facility of free Wi-Fi onboard. This certainly makes the travel experience better as passengers can stay connected while traveling at all times. VIA (Via Rail Canada) has also started offering free streaming of CBC TV shows and daily news, animation and documentaries can be accessed from the National film Board while the history enthusiasts can indulge in episodes from History Matters and Heritage Minutes. VIA also provides coloring books for children to keep them entertained.
Magazines, newspapers and books should be provided to passengers so that they don’t get bored. Magazines carry puzzles and various activities which the passengers can busy themselves with while traveling.
Facilitate Passengers with Special Needs
The comfort of passengers with special needs should be ensured and most rail services allow such individuals to place bookings online and get their tickets delivered at home. Most of the rail service authorities prefer to be informed 24 hours prior of the traveling plans of a person with a disability in order to make the necessary arrangements for the journey to be comfortable. Various rail services allow companions to travel with such individuals but they must present certification from a doctor.
For passengers who use a wheelchair, coaches should have wheelchair access and these passengers should be given seats with easy access to doors and bathrooms so that they don’t face any trouble. It would be even more helpful if mobility assistants were available onboard to assist these passengers.
To assist people with hearing disabilities a sufficient number of screens can be placed with travel details. A help number can be provided to such individuals which will enable them to discuss with a representative if they need further help. For the visually impaired passengers, braille notes can be added at different locations and adding a talking schedule would be a great help. Rail services should train their staff to be extra attentive to individuals with special needs and make their journey as relaxed as possible.
Some people travel a lot, this could be either for business or because they love to travel. Frequent travelers using rail services expect a certain level of comfort and convenience. Customers who travel frequently should be eligible for discounts or rewards. Rail services can introduce a point system which makes a person entitled for different rewards based on the frequency of their trips.
Amtrak and Eurostar both have very effective loyalty programs in place. As soon as a person signs up for the Amtrak loyalty program, he/she is eligible to 500 bonus points if they travel within 90 days of becoming members. Eurostar has programs like ‘Frequent Traveler’ and ‘Plus Points’ which make traveling a lot more affordable for the regular customers. Loyalty programs are a great way to enhance the experience of those using train services.