Rail travel attracts not only billions of passengers around the world but also staggering levels of public and private sector investment. Rail operators now focus on a personalized offer, targeted pricing and more efficient distribution channels. All of the traveller tribes identified in our research will be familiar with the benefits of travelling by rail, but with a different take on what the benefits are.
Simplicity Searchers will take the train when it is more convenient than the other options available. The prospect of avoiding the airport and the restrictions around baggage allowance and liquids in hand luggage will appeal. Rail operators that can make life even simpler by allowing passengers who book in advance the chance to add a hotel to their booking will get greater traction with the tribe.
Cultural Purists will be big fans of the rail network, taking great pleasure in joining the locals on their early morning commute or using trains and public transport to navigate cities. The booking at the kiosk window is part of their desire for a spontaneous experience, although some will like to book ahead. Both options need to be available.
Social Capital Seekers with a thirst for travel can update their Facebook profile from a different city, if not country, every day if they are travelling by rail. This tribe expects Wi-Fi everywhere, so any rail company looking to appeal to this tribe needs to not only provide it as a free service but also to use its availability in their marketing.
Reward Hunters are prepared to pay a premium for high speed rail. But when looking for something special, their attention may be focused on trains which can provide a luxury experience, for example moving beyond first class compartments to feature private carriages with fine dining. Reward Hunters will appreciate the extravagant experience luxury rail travel can provide and also the complimentary services, such as exclusive lounge access or free newspapers and drinks.
Obligation Meeters looking to take the train will value ease of booking, closely followed by ticket flexibility if there is an unexpected delay, such as a meeting running over time. Ticket rebooking needs to be automated and done online in real-time rather than manually at the kiosk. Punctuality and reliability are rail basics but resonate particularly for Obligation Meeters.
Ethical Travellers are likely to be the biggest advocates of rail travel among our tribes as it is an environmentally friendly, low-carbon way to travel. They will actively seek out travel destinations that are accessible by rail, reversing the norm by only taking a flight if there is no rail option. It would be important to ensure that all parts of the rail supply chain are sustainable, from catering options to working conditions for staff.
Download a copy of our report to learn more about how the traveller tribes of tomorrow will approach rail travel.