Eurail Group has kicked off 2019, the year it celebrates 60 years of operation, with a raft of additional services and refinements. In Sydney this week from Eurail’s headquarters in Utrecht, The Netherlands, was Nadine Koszler, Marketing Manager & Communications, meeting with trade partners and to discuss the changes.
Australia is a leading market for Eurail, in fact, it’s the second largest source region for the company globally, ahead of South Korea but trailing the United States. In 2018, just under 34,000 Australians booked rail travel through Eurail, accounting for about 12% of total transactions. A strong figure in its own right, but well down on Americans who make up around 30% of Eurail’s bookings.
Koszler said she is hopeful the Australian figure will grow as a result of changes implemented, effective 1 January 2019. This year has seen the inclusion of three additional countries into Eurail’s scope, including “off the beaten track” destinations, Macedonia and Lithuania, along with Great Britain, taking its total reach to 31 countries.
The number of passes has been refined, with Select Passes and Saver Passes discontinued. Now customers have a far more simplified option, Koszler said.
“The two passes available are the Global Pass which covers all 31 countries and then there are a number of One Country Passes which are ideal for agents who have customers who are looking to explore a single country more in depth. For instance, Italy is one of our most popular One Country Passes. And the Benelux pass, which includes the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, is ideal for people who want to explore those smaller countries.”
Koszler said the now-defunct Select Pass offered customers the choice of between two and four bordering countries.
“For 2019 we’ve really streamlined it for customers and agents, and that’s been combined together with a price decrease of up to 37% on some passes,” Koszler told LATTE.
“The One Country Pass is still available per usual and now the Global Pass, because of the price decrease, it reduces the need for the Select Pass altogether.”
She said the change was driven by trade agents and consumers wanting a “more simplified product”.
“So it’s easy to say I’m going to France so I’ll get the One Country Pass. Or I’m not quite sure, I want to see a number of different destinations, so therefore Global Pass is the way to go. It really takes out some of the tough decisions and weighing up the process of which country do I really want to go,” she explained.
“We recognised that the market is increasingly competitive and we needed to adapt to customers needs, so for us, it was really great to be able to offer Australian consumers in particular, a better deal for less.”
Koszler said a high volume of business for the Global Pass is booking the 1st Class product.
“It’s a good sign that people are looking for something that is a little bit extra for their trip. When we look at the spread of destinations that we have, we see a big pattern between more of Western Europe, and Switzerland is very well known for their comfortable train experiences, especially within 1st Class.”
Eurail customers also have the option of 2nd Class service network-wide, enabling the company to cater to all itineraries and budgets.
“Within Australia in particular, we do have a higher than average tendency to book 1st Class, in comparison to other markets. I think that’s because people are coming such a long distance they want to make it a really special, memorable experience,” Koszler said.
Eurail Group also now offers Greek Island Passes which are ferry services linking more than 50 Greek Islands.
“Travellers can use a single pass to explore the islands and we also have ferry partnerships, in the Balearic Islands in Spain, and also connections between Italy and Greece, and the Scandinavian countries as well. It’s a really nice way to discover the scenic routes as well, combined with rail travel,” she said. Overnight ferries can be pre-booked online, while major connections require customers to line up, just like the locals.
City Cards in popular European destinations are another channel Eurail Group is exploring, partnering with cities such as Paris, Vienna and Budapest to offer entry to multiple attractions.
“It means Eurail customers can experience much more than just the nice scenery from the train window, as well.”
While Eurail does have a B2C channel, the trade is an essential ingredient to its success in this market.
“The trade is of massive and increasing importance to us. There is so much for people to see online, but often they still need that support from an agent to help them make the decision, particularly if they haven’t travelled extensively within Europe before. Trade for us is really key.”
To mark its 60th anniversary down under, Eurail will offer a range of offers for consumers throughout the year, including a free upgrade to 1st Class when booking 2nd Class Global Passes before 28 February 2019. The promotion is valid for travel from 1 February through to 15 May 2019.
A series of trade events are also being organised for later this month and in early March across Australia.
Agents can visit tradeportal.eurailgroup.org and register to gain travel trade access for more detailed product information about Eurail.