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Is Spain ready for the rail liberalization?

January 25, 2018
Author: Marta Desviat

The Hotusa Group celebrated last January, the IV Forum of Innovation in Tourism. Representatives from the technological, tourism and travel industries debated the opportunities that technology and innovation mean for Spain and its driving force: inbound tourism.

According to the United Nations World Travel Organization, Spain expects to be the world’s second most popular tourist destination. Innovation and technology are not optional for Spain’s tourism development.

“We will only make Spain world’s leading destination if we address digital transformation.” Hilario Albarracín, Chairman KPMG Spain

Better serving the business traveler

The morning started with a debate on how to better serve the customer and differentiate the travel offer. With a special focus on the business traveler and its relationship with rail travel. 

In Spain, high-speed rail developments have taken away market share on popular air routes for business travelers such as Madrid-Valencia. Spain's flagship airline, Iberia, had to reinvent itself creating a low-cost subsidiary airline, Iberia Express, to cover some other profitable routes. This proves how convenient rail travel can be for the business traveler. 

Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) was part of the debate and shared how their business travelers are expecting to have the same travel experiences as in their private life, requesting more personalization. In addition, technology plays a critical role:  

“We have invested in technology to create a similar Amazon or Netflix experience."  Francisco Núñez, Vice President Global Partners Network, CWT

Collaborating with technology players and content aggregators to offer the business traveler multiple content through a multichannel strategy is necessary, and so is personalization. It goes hand-in-hand with the DIY (Do it your Self) traveler evolution. That is why CWT has been working with predictive data analytics to give the travelers a more personalized offer based on historical data, offering more relevant and richer information.

The 2020 rail liberalization horizon

The 2018 new high-speed lines (marked in red in the map below) will consolidate Spain as the longest high-speed rail network in Europe with 3,240 km. And the second longest in the world, after China. 

2018 new high-speed lines in Spain

What about the European rail deregulation status? By 2020, all European rail networks will open access to passenger competition in two possible ways: 

  • Like in the Czech Republic, gradually opening railroad stretches. Competing for the best route operability.
  • Like in the UK or in Italy, fully opening the market and operating the routes that each operator believes are profitable. This will be the case of Spain. 

According to Spain's national operator, RENFE, competition is good. Passenger rail deregulation will promote the market growth and so will the number of rail passengers. RENFE is preparing to compete nationally and internationally. 

Lastly, the unregulated collaborative economy was a hot topic during the conference. Certain activities have been born as a solution for traveling seamlessly when railways are not capable to offer a single integrated ticketing and booking experience. RENFE believes that collaboration and seamless travel will define Spain's competitiveness in the 2020 rail horizon

Would you like to anticipate to 2020? Download now our report: The Rail Journey to 2020

The rail journey to 2020

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