How can travel sellers prepare for the French shift to rail over domestic air travel

How can travel sellers prepare for the French shift to rail over domestic air travel
Edited by Travel Weekly

    How can travel sellers and B2B distributors support and tap into France’s climate initiative of banning domestic flights where a rail alternative is available? 

    There’s a business opportunity for airlines in the rail boom says Alice Ferrari, from aviation technology provider Kyte, “The shift to rail doesn’t mean airlines need to lose out,” Ferrari, said. 

    “Airlines like KLM have already figured out that there’s a business opportunity for forward-thinking carriers.  Airlines should look at intermodality – offering multiple forms of transport for the traveller’s total journey – offering people public transport options for part or all of their routes. 

    “Airlines should also look to partner with the rail companies, to buy and sell rail seats, and simply consider this another ancillary revenue.

    “As intermodal transport becomes increasingly important for consumers, travel companies, including airlines and rail carriers need to be equipped for plug and play with multiple travel apps and itinerary planning tools.”

    However, there are currently a number of practical barriers involved in the shift to rail.

    Spencer Hanlon from global real-time payments platform Nium said that many booking systems and third parties are not properly set up to manage B2B payment with rail providers automatically, or at all. 

    “Add the complexity of rail ticket booking, many different providers and schedules, not to mention the potential for cancellations or rebookings, and the industry may not be ready to take rail bookings en masse right now – we need to work together to solve these challenges fast to tap into the growing demand for rail,” he said. 

    Eurostar Train on platform in Lille, France. (iStock – Baloncici)

    “I truly believe that rail is and will continue to develop as an alternative to air for any route that can be covered in less than four hours by train,” MD, Digitrips, Emilie Dumont, said. 

    “The improvement of high-speed trains will also help in the coming years.

    “Train is convenient – stations are inside cities, there are no security queues, and travellers can arrive at the station as little as ten minutes before departure, enjoying comfort and wifi when onboard. 

    “The main issue I see is carbon calculations – the methodology used is a little behind air… However, I see this improving. 

    “We also plan to enhance our rail offering in 2024, providing our B2B clients with train-inclusive travel solutions.”

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