Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Club 55 is back at Arriva Trains Wales

Arriva Trains Wales have re-launched their highly successful Club 55 offer.

The promotion, which offers passengers over the age of 55 the chance to travel anywhere on the ATW network for just £18 return, will run between 4 September and 14 December.

Passengers with a senior railcard can get a further £2 off this price, while the company has also teamed up with Chiltern Railways, London Midland, Cross Country Trains and other train operating companies to offer an additional Club 55 discount on rail travel.

Paul Tapley, Head of Marketing for Arriva Trains Wales said:

“We have received countless letters from customers telling us of their positive experience of making journeys using Club 55 and are pleased to again make this popular offer available to allow anyone over the age of 55 to explore the delights the Arriva Trains Wales network at this sensational price.”

The offer has worked really well for ScotRail, First Great Western and TransPennine Express so it's no surprise that Arriva have brought it back for a three month period.

National Express boss spends time at the coalface

The top man at National Express, Andrew Cleaves, is due to start a tour of the country on board his own coaches this week.

Andrew will be travelling non-stop to get a real taste of life as a customer with his mission to blog and tweet his way around the UK's only national travel network - unearthing great customer stories and making his own travelling tales.

Andrew said, "I do spend a lot of time visiting National Express locations around the UK, but it's for a few hours here and there. I want to dedicate some quality time travelling around on coaches to not only meet customers and staff, but to travel as a customer does."

Andrew will be travelling on a whole host of National Express services including to an airport, cross country, through the night and to cities.

"I want to experience what's great and what's not so great about the service we offer. I am committed to addressing any issues I experience first hand but will also celebrate the examples of great customer service that I know I'll see" Andrew added.

Competitions and prizes will be on offer while Andrew is travelling in a 'Where am I' competition that will run on Facebook & Twitter @nationalexpress, while the hashtag #MDonthemove is also in use.

Although not a revolutionary approach, I'm surprised more members of top level management within the transport industry (and others for that matter) don't choose to adopt it. 

The sector doesn't have the greatest of reputations where customer service is concerned, so seeing the top brass out and on the buses about can't do any harm whatsoever.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

staff using social media causing you a headache? here's how we helped First TransPennine Express

Click image to enlarge
Following on from our anti-bullying campaign FTPE also asked us to look at an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.

Like a lot of large companies, they have had number of incidents recently where colleagues posted comments and pictures on Facebook that might be considered derogatory, both on a personal level and a business reputational level. Individuals also posted sensitive operational information that had been purposely withheld from the media and customers.

Whilst FTPE had a social media policy in place it was never really pushed to their staff, and as such gave the opportunity for the excuse of ‘ I was never told, therefore I am not responsible.’

Our objective was to highlight, communicate and promote the details of FTPE’s social media policy so that all colleagues were aware of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour. It had to educate, but not necessarily point the finger.

Being a forward-thinking company that uses social media itself, FTPE didn’t want to discourage the use of social media. They are aware it has massive benefits if colleagues are using it to reflect FTPE in a positive light.

Our solution was to create a light-hearted, fact based leaflet and poster campaign that people would take notice of, and then comunicate simply, tips on how to stay safe online.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

we help First TransPennine Express tackle bullying

Click image to enlarge
First TransPennine Express recently approached us to help them tackle bullying and harassment in the workplace.

After a couple of isolated incidents, FTPE wanted a campaign to combat this discrimination. Because instances like this were rare at FTPE, it was important that the material wasn't condescending but could be read loud and clear.

The objective was to encourage staff (mostly train drivers, conductors and station staff) to respect and value diversity and difference in the workplace and aim to stop any undesirable behaviour.

Our solution was to create two striking posters with a strong, confident tone of voice and look. As part of the campaign, we also produced a small booklet containing further guidance and information on the expectations of FTPE.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

South West Trains launch 'Rainbow Day' price promotion

South West Trains has announced plans for its first ‘Rainbow Day’ -  encouraging people to give the train a try from a specified station on their network.

The first ‘Rainbow Day’ will be held at Winchester station on Saturday 20th August and will offer a day return ticket to anywhere on the South West Trains network for just £10 for adults and £5 for children.

Tickets will be sold exclusively at Winchester station ticket office, although a voucher will be required which can be downloaded from their website.

Jake Kelly, Customer Service Director for South West Trains, said:

“We are always looking to see how we can continue to develop our commitment to offering value for money travel through developing new initiatives.

“The Rainbow Day ticket is a great example of this – and the first of its kind on our network, starting with Winchester. This will offer a fast, flexible and very affordable £10 return to anywhere on South West Trains’ vast network.

Couldn't agree more Jake - it's good to see TOCs making use of special events like this to encourage train travel,

Although if you visit the South West Trains website you could be forgiven for thinking the event was even happening at all.

Surely a little more promotion on the site wouldn't go amiss for such a great offer ?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Derby County rally for rail workers

Derby County players yesterday unveiled the Save Our Rail Industry T-shirts they will wear on to the pitch before Saturday’s season opener.

The stars will be accompanied by 22 children of redundancy-threatened Bombardier employees.

Manager Nigel Clough, who is backing the campaign, will be dedicating his match-day programme notes to the jobs scandal. He said: “This is actually about more than politics – it is about saving livelihoods and an industry.

“As a football club, we are the heart of the community. People from the rail industry have stuck by the club through good times and bad, and it is our turn to do what we can in return.”

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

the sevens sins of social media

Mark Ritson is an associate professor of marketing who works with some of the world's most recognised brands.

He writes, talks and advises on all things marketing and in a nutshell the guy has been there, done it and bought the marketing t-shirt.

In a recent column for Marketing Week he wrote an article entitled 'The seven dumbest sins of social media' in which he pours scorn on the concept of social media being marketing's holy grail.

Unsurprisingly, lots of people lept to the defence of the Tweeting, Facebooking community and the comments flowed freely. In fact it was the most comments Mark had ever had for something he'd written for the publication.

Yes, Mark admits the article was written to deliberately provoke marketing folk around the world - but for me, he certainly puts forward a lot of valid points.

Have a read and see what you think.

I wonder how many people in transport community would agree with him?

Stagecoach let you sleep between Glasgow and London

Stagecoach are to launch Britain's first sleeper coach service on their Megabus route between Glasgow and London. 

The sleeper coaches are the latest innovation from Stagecoach and will compete with ScotRail's established Caledonian Sleeper service for the overnight passenger who wants some decent sleep.

The sleeper coach fares will initially start at an attractive price of £40.50 for a single journey.

In return, passengers get a duvet, pillow and blanket, along with toothbrush, toothpaste, bottled water, eye mask, free wi-fi and free hot drinks and snacks.

The coaches, which have a toilet, will accommodate 24 passengers who will have a seat as well as a bed for flexibility during the eight-hour journey. The overnight service will be provided by single-decker articulated "bendy" buses, with bunks stacked three high.

Curtains will screen each bunk, but it is expected passengers will sleep in their clothes in the absence of space to change into their nightwear. However, the berths will have reading lights.

The Glasgow-London route was chosen because it is Megabus's busiest overnight service.

It's good to see transport companies setting themselves new challenges in what, for some, are still challenging economic conditions.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

can you deliver your marketing promises?

In a blog post last month we highlighted East Coast Trains' £25 first class promotion.

To coincide with a flat £25 return first class fare, the promotion highlighted 25 reasons why people should try first class with the operator.

A gentleman called David Giles took up their offer, and has since written an insightful and humorous account of the difference between the campaign's promises and the operator's delivery.

You can read it in full here.

Although the promotion has initially been highly successful for the operator, it will be interesting to see if the issues highlighted in David's blog will affect repeat journeys of the new recruits.

As East Coast is finding out, 25 things is a lot to promise customers - let alone deliver it.

do you see ideas as a risk?

I often wonder how many clients see ideas as a risk - rather than something that could potentially further their careers.

Their motivation may be very different from the brief they give the agency, so it's the agency's job to find out what the client's real objective is. This can often involve reading not only between the lines but under them and over them too! Just to find that special something to nail an idea to.

There was an agency back in the 80s who worked for six months on a government scheme devised to help school leavers get jobs.

The best people in the agency worked solidly to help solve a social problem, and the work they presented was top-end creative. There was also lots of it.

It was all rejected. What they had failed to understand was not the brief, but the politics that lay behind it.

All the minister wanted was for the public to know he was spending lots of money advertising the scheme not actually solve the problem.

Hopefully that doesn't sound too familiar.

Thanks to Paul Arden for this.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Chiltern up their game. Again.

Last month we told you how Chiltern have upped their game in the fight with Virgin for passengers between the west Midlands and London.

Now they have gone one better.

Chiltern has become the first rail company in Britain to scrap its (complicated) fares system and, from September, introduce a ticket range its customers can actually understand.

Out go the myriad of supersaver, advance and apex tickets and in come just three return fares - the "anytime" ticket priced at £75, the off-peak ticket for £50 and the "super off-peak" ticket for £25. All of which can all be bought on the day of travel.

Thomas Ableman, director Chiltern, said "Passengers tell us they want fast trains, free wi-fi and a simple pricing structure they can understand."

Add in punctuality and I think that just about hits the nail on the head.

Chiltern has a reputation for being a very customer orientated TOC, so let's hope some of their fellow operators soon follow suit.