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Rail travel personalisation: a golden opportunity

October 16, 2012
Author: Eve-Marie Morgo

Deregulation, increased competition and a renewed interest in rail mean for established rail companies looking for new increasing revenues, reducing costs and expanding their international market share. To meet these challenges, railways need to become more customer-centric and here is where personalisation will be playing a key role. Read on to discover how can railways better personalise rail travel offer. 


Offering the rail traveller the opportunity to tailor his journey will not only increase revenues (through charging for optional extra services) but will help railways to attract new customer segments and build customer loyalty. 

Personalising rail travel 

Many travel sellers have already made personalisation central to their services. The options that they offer can be as simple as booking first class rather than standard or including multiple trips on a single itinerary. Many charter airlines no longer have the traditional cabin options, instead offering a ‘premium economy’ cabin with increased leg room and a smaller, quieter cabin, at a more affordable price than business class. Travel management companies have begun providing an ‘account manager’ as a personal point of contact for corporate customers as well as other concierge services. 


The airline industry, the inspiration for railways 

In addition to offering these choices, over the past decade, the selling of rail ancillary services has emerged as a key means by which travel providers have been able to personalise the travel experience. This can involve charging for optional extras within the basic service such as:

  • Extra meals, additional leg room and Wi-Fi access,
  • It can involve the cross-selling of third party services, such as travel insurance, accommodation, and car hire through a single provider.

One only has to look to the airline industry to see the potential that the sale of optional services and third-party ancillaries could have for rail. In July we published the Amadeus Review of Ancillary Revenue Results for 2011 alongside airline consultancy group IdeaWorks, which found that

In the Amadeus Review of Ancillary Revenue Results for 2011 alongside airline consultancy group IdeaWorks, which found that in 2011 the ancillary revenue reported by airlines has grown to €18.23 billion, a 66% increase since 2009. Furthermore, an Amadeus-commissioned report by analysts Forrester


Where should railways start?

However, rail companies considering how ancillary services could help them achieve greater personalisation for travellers might wonder where to begin and which services to offer as they take their first steps into this new territory. Fortunately, Amadeus has some industry insight to share.

Last year, we commissioned a survey from YouGov which polled over 7,000 travellers from across Europe. Asked what they would expect to be able to pre-book when embarking on a long-distance high-speed rail journey, 46% answered ‘on-board entertainment and Wi-Fi’ whilst 38% wanted to be able to purchase ‘fast-track check-in and security.’

A further 37% of respondents wanted to be able to pre-book ‘hotel bookings, transfers and travel insurance’ when reserving a high-speed rail journey. The ability to cross-sell services from third party providers and to offer a single, complete, and personalised itinerary will, therefore, be a key means by which rail companies are able to differentiate their offer.


Meeting traveller needs with a personalised offer

Amadeus is working with rail companies to make such personalisation a reality. Amadeus Rail’s Agent Track allows rail companies to sell rail ancillary services such as meals and Wi-Fi to customers booking through a travel agent. The simplicity and flexibility of the tool allow rail companies to sell all ancillary services in a single place where they can be searched, compared and booked by the travel agent. Meanwhile, travel sellers using the Amadeus Selling Platform will be able to shop for and book services such as hotels, cars and travel insurance. Rail travellers want a more personalised,seamless travel experience and are willing to pay for the services to ensure it.


As the global rail marketplace opens up in response to deregulation, the level of collaboration between industries, rail companies, and technology is only set to increase. Consequently, so too will the services that rail companies will be able to offer. Looking to the future, our Forrester report predicts travel providers offering such services as onboard spa treatments, digital concierge services and portable business productivity device rental. It is an area of growth where, even for rail, the sky could be the limit.


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