Turning travellers into customers: Travel 2020 and beyond

Philip Martin

Former Head of Marketing, Amadeus Rail

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Yesterday marked the commencement of the third annual Travel2020 exhibition held at the Oval in London, England. Billed as Europe’s largest travel and transport event, the focus of this two-day conference is very much placed on the passenger rather than the provider, and more specifically the passenger ‘experience’; with the wider aim of bringing together the great and good of the industry to discuss, debate (and no doubt disagree!) over the latest technologies, commercial challenges and future multi-modal opportunities which may exist both at home and overseas.


From the opening session where Norman Baker MP, currently a Transport Minister in the UK government, talked passionately about how London and the UK must turn the goodwill of the London 2012 Games into innovative and affordable future transport programmes; to where the Chief Executive of the UK consumer watchdog Passenger Focus explained that when it comes to technology in travel often ‘the future is already here it’s just not evenly distributed’, it was a first day full of both insight and intelligent discussion.



This afternoon I have been speaking about how at Amadeus, the challenge for the rail industry as we see it is to turn travellers into customers. It is clear to me that railways have to now play serious catch up – and quickly - with other modes of transport and simultaneously provide a much more customer centric offer than they have historically. And this goes all the way through the traveller’s total trip experience.

Let me put that into context. You may think that the journey starts when a traveller first gets on the train. But you'd be wrong. In fact the journey starts when the traveller is only just initially deciding to make a purchase - lose the traveller now and you could have lost a long term loyal customer.

At the same time I feel very strongly that rail as a mode of transport must be much more visible when it comes to consumers at the point which they are even contemplating making travel decisions, especially when competing on short haul flight routes. This is also true when international travellers are looking to explore the destination country but they need to be able to buy goods and services in their own currency and plan their trip for instance – something which is often a genuine challenge if the traveller wants to travel by rail.

One final thought to leave you with is that we need to bring the process of booking rail into the 21st century and encourage this through ticketing and easy access to rail services. Indeed there is technology built today that has a multi-channel multi provider offer. It can be done. We just need everyone else to believe it.



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