When you think of the adoption of innovative technology in the travel industry, airlines and hotels probably come to mind first. But more and more railways are also seeking to maximise the potential of all channels to reach new tech-savvy customers far and wide. Let’s take a look at 6 major trends that we’ve seen railways actively embrace.
Personalisation: Different travellers have wide ranging expectations when it comes to services. Railways are taking advantage of this by offering them extras that create a personalised experience. Indian Railways, for example, launched an e-bedroll service that allows passengers to add bedroll kits during their online booking with a selection of bed sheets, pillows and blankets.
Artificial Intelligence: It’s pretty clear that robots are poised to take over the world. OK, maybe not just yet. But, artificial intelligence is poised to make the travel experience better. In the rail sector, Voyages-sncf.com is an early adopter of chat bots with intelligent language processing capabilities that interact with customers, potentially easing the burden on call centres and increasing the satisfaction of rail passengers.
Virtual & Augmented Reality: The potential of this technology for travel players is limited only by imagination. Chinese railway manufacturer CRRC presented at Innotrans 2016 its “magic train window”, a satellite-supported passenger information system that transforms train windows and mirrors into interactive displays with information about the landscape that is passing by.
Open Data: Open data is at the heart of the latest technology trends. The Association of Train Operating Companies in Britain opened up its data vaults to the world. This resulted in the birth of Trains.im, a site where you can map out your journey, easily access a list of all trains between two stations in a day, see routing and expected intermediate times for entire train journeys and maps of the route.
Big Data Analytics: Insights into traveller behaviour will allow rail companies to deliver a more intuitive customer experience. From offering ancillary services to providing recommendations about additional destinations to visit as part of an upgrade to the passenger’s rail journey, big data will offer plenty of opportunities to improve the rail experience.
Collaborative Economy: You’ve probably participated in the collaborative economy and these services are going to continue to grow. Uber, for example, is looking to partner with Indian Railways to not only integrate its service within the Indian Railways app, but also to ferry travellers to and from the station by setting up cab booking kiosks at the stations.
It’s a new and exciting time for rail. Technology trends are continually shifting our relationship with providers as consumers grow their footprint in the industry. As such, the right way forward is to engage and convert new, constantly connected and self-sufficient travellers.
Railways have the door wide open to streamline operations, increase productivity, boost revenue, engage with travellers in real time, and provide a personalised experience with the right technology which all result in more satisfied customers and higher profitability.