From delayed trains to freezing cold waiting rooms and stale sausage rolls, travelling can be a frustrating experience. Free WiFi is something that can help make this experience more bearable and many passengers expect this at all stages of their journey. Here’s how connectivity can help make for a better passenger experience and its impact on the Train Operating Company (TOC).
What is the Continuously Connected Passenger Journey?
It’s one thing to offer free WiFi at a train station but another to provide a service that allows for passengers to remain connected all throughout their journey - from the moment they step into the station to when they leave their final destination. This is what defines an Continuously Connected Passenger Journey. That means from station to train and train to station, no matter how many changes a passenger might have to make, they will be constantly connected.
It’s not just an uninterrupted internet connection either. The interconnected journey means that passengers don’t have to keep logging into WiFi either. One log in at their first station will see them through to when they exit their final station.
The Benefits of a Continuously Connected Passenger Journey
There are various benefits to offering constant connectivity throughout a passenger’s journey, such as:
- WiFi Helping to Create a Better, Overall Passenger Experience
- WiFi Providing Insightful Analytics into Customer Behaviour
- WiFi Helping with Marketing and Boosting Brand Awareness
- WiFi Helping with Station and Platform Management
Many of us will know exactly how tedious and frustrating travelling can be. At best, the tea we order at the station might be lukewarm or someone else might be sitting in your seat on the train. And then there are the worst case scenarios - trains being delayed or cancelled, resulting in passengers having to squeeze onto already-packed carriages.
A free WiFi connection can, at least, make all of those struggles a little easier to cope with. They help make that wait for trains more bearable, allowing people to send vital business emails, check social media and stream movies to pass the time. It can also provide travel-related information, such as alerting you to delays ahead of time that may affect your journey.
It’s even better if that connection only requires one log in. Also known as the Single Sign Up (SSU), this allows the passenger to stay consistently connected throughout their journey, no matter how many changes they have to make. This creates a seamless WiFi connection and is more convenient and helps to save time. This creates a better travelling experience by not interrupting your passenger who will want to travel with your company again.
When passengers want to log into the WiFi, they are asked to enter their email address. They are then sent a validation link which gives them a year’s worth of uninterrupted internet access and the TOC gains this information for marketing and analytics purposes. For example, it may be used to analyse popular travel routes depending on demographic and peak travelling times.
This can allow providers to make best use of their resources to cater to their customers’ habits, which helps to make for a better passenger experience.
Some WiFi vendors offer custom, branded user experiences (UX) that can be as simple or as sophisticated as the TOC requires. As well as allowing the TOC the freedom to customise their UX as they please, adding their own branding also helps to boost awareness.
A bespoke UX isn’t the only thing that can help boost overall brand awareness.
Advanced analytics allow TOCs to unlock the true value of their WiFi. They can grasp a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour, such as peak travelling times and popular travel routes, along with a granular view of customer demographic. They can then use that to provide targeted promotions that their passengers might be interested in.
Providing a unique UX means TOCs can present their passengers with a single, branded experience. And this all links back to the continually connected passenger journey - passengers only need to sign into the WiFi once and they can be exposed to relevant marketing messages that can help build loyalty and satisfaction.
It also means they can put together compelling businesses pitches to retailers as to why a concession should be at a certain station at a particular time and place. For example, Network Rail saw a nine percent retail sales growth across its stations during the 2017 festive period, with King’s Cross, Euston and Paddington performing the best for people looking for last minute Christmas presents.
WiFi solutions can help railway providers manage their stations in a way that makes best use of their resources as well as being tailored to the passenger’s needs.
For instance, railway providers can access vital analytics such as customer behaviour. When you know information such as the peak and average waiting times, you can allocate your resources to best cater to your passengers’ needs and ensure that your budget is being spent in the right areas.
But it’s not just this. Heatmaps allow TOCs to chart customer journeys throughout the station, allowing them to identify popular locations, movement patterns and categorise journeys within a venue by type.
By seeing where the most popular WiFi hotspots are, you can strategically place concession stalls or arrange your services in a way that best encourages customers to visit (and potentially spend money) while they wait for their train to arrive.
Stations are no longer places where you only sit and wait for your train to arrive. They are now also places for shopping, dining and socialising. TOCs need to stay on top of consumer habits and trends in order to keep meeting their passengers’ needs and a robust WiFi solution can help.
The ideal solution will provide more than just station WiFi and superior connectivity. It will provide advanced analytics to ensure you can understand your passengers more deeply, from behaviour to demographic, so you can cater your station and arrange your resources to meet their demands.
It will also provide a bespoke UX to not only provide your passengers with travel-related information but give them the unique experience and targeted marketing messages designed to boost exposure and satisfaction at the same time. And this all starts with the continuously connected passenger journey.
Find Out More About What WiFi Can Bring to Your Passengers
These are just a few of the benefits of WiFi and how a single connection can help improve your passengers’ travelling experience. For more information on user experience portals and its benefits, download our Case Study on Chiltern Railways.