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Head of Marketing, Amadeus Rail, Amadeus IT Group
From a purely marketing perspective this is a challenge, how do you differentiate yourself from the other hundreds of companies vying for the same customer. Preparation is one thing, and if you did your homework and advertising, emailing, calling campaign in advance you would have been able to plan your meetings and take advantage of the people that are attending. Or you go for the biggest banners (my vote goes for ABB), biggest stand (Alstom), or biggest party (didn’t get an invite).
Spare a thought for those people that forget to shop until the last weekend before Christmas. It's chaos as you are carried along in a wave of shoppers, rushed off your feet and have no time to sit take stock and plan your next move. This is a bit like InnoTrans. It’s just massive. It’s the biggest event I’ve ever been to, and every time I visit it doesn’t cease to amaze me. And that’s just on the inside. Outside you can find over 4 km of railway track featuring every conceivable locomotive available for you to snap a quick selfie. It takes roughly 20 minutes for you to walk, without stopping, from end to end through the many halls that make up this colossal event (someone told me that they did it in 17 minutes without running – I think that’s a record).
There were many one liners that tried to catch the eye, “connecting” “complete solutions” “powering” as well as some amazing stand design, the tulip (pictured) really stood out.
What I did notice that this year there were more interactive seminars being held at many of the stands. They were very popular and attracted large groups of people to stand and listen and ask questions. I attended the UNIFE SHIFT2RAIL presentation where a panel took questions at the end. The presentation outlined the SHIFT2RAIL goals, challenges and status. Amadeus is a founder member of the consortium that helped prepare the IP4 section which is to define and build IT solutions for attractive railway services. The real aim is to get as close as possible to meeting the needs spelt out in the EC white paper “a vision for rail transport 2050”, it also aims to bring rail into the process of booking multimodal travel, this would be a big step forward to integrating rail travel into the total trip process. Of course it’s not just booking but the whole infrastructure needed to improve rail across Europe.
Keir Fitch, Deputy Head of Cabinet, Vice President S Kallas (Transport) ended his presentation with a challenge to the railways: “meet the requirements set out so that funding will be provided or lose this funding to other modes of transport that are willing to collaborate and focus on the traveller needs”
Where rail booking is still a challenge, the flip side is the new designs coming out for locomotives. I took a few pictures of the sleek designs, it’s very rare that you get to see the front of a train so close and they did resemble a mix of top of the range sports cars.
My two days at InnoTrans flew by just because there are so many things to see and people to visit, and if I have one piece of advice for your next trip to InnoTrans in 2 years, planning is essential so plan ahead, take with you a bottle of water, and don’t organise back to back meetings in non-adjoining halls unless you want to try and break the 17 minute record.