Rail Europe is asking travel advisors to embrace the rail specialists’ suite of new tools and technology enhancements, designed to streamline both agent and operator efficiencies.
Richard Leonard, General Manager for Asia Pacific, told LATTE the company has made significant investments in technology upgrades over the past 12 months, as two major retail travel groups jump on board to realise the full benefits of dealing directly with Rail Europe.
In July last year, Flight Centre Limited Group’s Infinity Rail wholesale specialist division began using Rail Europe as its platform of choice, Leonard explained, with the group transitioning to use Rail Europe for all its European rail transactions.
Similarly, Helloworld Limited’s Rail Tickets will follow suit at the the end of this month and utilise Rail Europe as its reservation platform form for rail services.
Leonard said FCTG and Helloworld both recognised Rail Europe as the true specialist in the field, with the best B2B tool in the market, the best specialisation with support on the ground and best marketing.
“What that means is Rail Europe’s B2B tool becomes the key tool in the market in Australia and New Zealand that transacts the business.”
Leonard said optimisation has been paramount over the past 12+ months, with an array of new tools, channels, tech and support rolled out to help travel consultants with information sourcing, quotes and bookings.
“We’re always actively trying to engage the agent, animate and educate them,” Leonard told LATTE.
Examples of Rail Europe’s optimisation includes a ‘save for later’ function that lets advisors create a quote for series of segments for a potential client’s travel arrangements, and stores the information indefinitely.
Another example is Rail Europe’s ‘linked booking fee,’ which eliminates multiple charges being added to a client’s reservation each time the file is accessed to add a new sector or make a seat selection.
“At the end of the day the travel advisor avoids getting additional booking fees added on top of one another, a process which previously required the consultant to call or email and ask for us to help remove the additional booking fees.”
Rail Europe has also extended the hours of its online chat service to suit the requirements of home-based agents that work outside the core 9 to 5. Based in Auckland, the office is now manned from 8am to 8pm (Australian time) to provide faster turnaround on enquiries. Optimised email templates for agent enquiries have also been introduced to help them transact.
Further, a virtual assistant dubbed Rail Wizard has been introduced to provide travel advisors with advice and links to problem-solving, such as making a seat reservation, without the necessity of having to pick-up the phone.
“Rail Wizard will guide you through a number of steps to potentially a link to where you can find the information on our website, or an easy solution, or a ‘click’ to a chat. Agents have multiple avenues to go to and they can ascertain where to get the right answers quickly, accurately and efficiently without having to call,” Leonard said, adding that the wizard could save a frontline seller sitting on hold for between 40 minutes and an hour in high season.
“We are always here to provide the best possible service to agents but we need them to think about how they have historically worked with us and other wholesalers. The answer is no longer picking up the phone. There are many other channels, optimised and more efficient for them to transact with us,” Leonard concluded.