Rail Europe has launched a new campaign for the Australian and New Zealand travel trade aimed at getting more holidaymakers onto trains while giving travel agents the chance to win their “dream rail journey”.
Called Only Europe. Only by Train, the new campaign aims to put Rail Europe literally on the map for travel agents as it features a new detailed map for advisors to consult and share with clients to help plan itineraries. And who in the travel industry doesn’t love a map? (This one’s an eye-catching pink one, by the way.)
At an intimate media event in Sydney, Rail Europe Asia & Pacific General Manager Rich Leonard said the new map was its “key piece of collateral that we give out to all of our agents”.
“It’s a full map of Europe and it shows every train route,” he said.
“You look at that map and you tell us in 100 words, your dream train journey… and then we’ll send someone on that train journey.”
Competition winners will receive first-class passes and financial assistance for airfares and ground arrangements.
Leonard said there could also be more iterations of the competition ahead.
“It’s about getting them to… reimagine, and to start thinking about, ‘where would I want to go?’ because if you want to go, you’re going to start sending your clients as well.”
ANZ agents can also expect a famil soon, with a focus on panoramic trains – likely in conjunction with Tourism Switzerland, with whom Leonard says Rail Europe works particularly closely.
As part of the new campaign, Rail Europe will share weekly updates and hacks on how to best use the company’s booking platform.
Can agents keep up?
Speaking about the travel trade, Leonard said the struggle for agents isn’t to find business, but to transact, thanks to a return in demand that has outstripped the capacity of agents.
“I’d say, conservatively, there are 30 per cent less travel agents that are transacting in this market compared to before the pandemic,” he said.
“That means that their level of enquiry is huge. So for them, the struggle is actually to transact. It’s not finding the business. It’s how do we transact the business?”
According to Leonard, b2b business last year was 78 per cent of 2019 levels. But combining both b2b and b2c business together, it was at 98 per cent.
“So for us last year, we pretty much got back our business across the board, back to 2019 [levels].”
Aussies take silver
Visiting Australia for the first time in four years, Rail Europe Chief Commercial Officer Florence Pasquier said that the Aussie market was the second most valuable, after the US.
“So it was really one of these markets where if we don’t come back, we are in trouble because it’s so important,” she told media at the Sydney event.
Pasquier also highlighted the importance of the trade to its business, describing b2b business as its “DNA”.
“So our b2c is there in markets, which are more mature, but b2b is really which makes us different and strong – and really with reduced teams, because we don’t have as many sales teams and business development [as before COVID],” she explained.
“We have built a very loyal close relationship in b2b everywhere, and with local teams, which was always our secret weapon – to be local.”
“I say it really from my heart… thank you to the agents. We owe it to the agents and their passion and love for selling Eurail.”
Back to school
But the Rail Europe CCO stressed the importance of continuing to educate travel advisors on rail.
“Talking to some of them last week… you need to educate, but you need to help them with the itineraries. Because some of the advisors were telling us, ‘when people ask me, what do I recommend… what should I do?’,” Pasquier explained.
“If I want to do a bit of south of France, a bit of Italy… if I do only Switzerland, which itinerary is the best? They need that [help], especially the new advisors.”
“These travel agents… they give so much business. It’s important to educate, but reward, so we do incentives. We will do again lots of fam trips this year… it’s important to bring them to Europe.”
So travel agents should watch this space. And get on to that pink map!
Late last year, Rail Europe showcased eight European Travel Commission (ETC) members and VisitBritain to nearly 100 travel advisors in Sydney and Melbourne in a first-of-its-kind roadshow.
For more information on Rail Europe, visit agent.raileurope.com.
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