As the travel industry returns on all fronts the trade’s key role in facilitating recovery has been paramount and the rails of Europe are certainly no exception.
That’s something Rail Europe’s chief commercial officer, Florence Pasqueir, highlighted this morning as she praised the Australian travel trade’s critical role in Rail Europe’s bounce back from the pandemic.
“We owe it to the agents,” Pasquier said. “They are passionate about selling Europe… Our success is to them.”
Pasquier is currently on her first trip Down Under since January 2020 when her taxi driver, on the way to the airport, warned her about a “disease in Chinese airports” (who knows what he could’ve been referring to).
A few years later and Pasquier is back with the stats that show just how instrumental the trade has been to Rail Europe’s recovery. The split between B2B-B2C for Rail Europe is approximately 75-25 and the jump from 2022 to 2023 sales was 60 per cent, despite there being approximately 30 per cent less agents booking through Rail Europe than pre-pandemic.
Rail Europe’s data showed cross-border travel is on the rise at +20 per cent compared to 2019.
This has been aided by Rail Europe’s move to e-tickets and mobile passes and the introduction of its new website and self-sufficient agent portal.
To get agents back out there sampling the product that they love to sell, Rail Europe has launched its Only Europe. Only by Train campaign which features a new detailed map and a series of competitions to win dream train journeys across Europe.
“We need to actually get [agents] back to Europe, we need to remind them about why they went into this industry,” Rich Leonard, Rail Europe’s general manager, APAC, said of the competition.
Agents will have the opportunity to submit their dream rail journey for a chance to win and embark on that journey. In addition to first class passes, winners will also be provided with financial assistance from Rail Europe for airfares and ground arrangements.
Agents will be able to use and share the new downloadable map to help their clients plan itineraries, be time and cost efficient, and ultimately facilitate comfortable and scenic journeys throughout their holiday.
In terms of travel trends, Rail Europe’s booking records show a significant shift in passenger demands, particularly in the revival of night trains across the continent and experiential, journeys (especially for the scenery, city-to-city convenience, and sustainability aspects). There has also been an increase in demand for higher quality of on-board services, comfort and convenience.
The markets currently overperforming are the US, India and South America, while the Eurail pass, Eurostar, Italy, and French tickets alongside Switzerland’s one pass for all, which includes busses, boats and trains has been booming.
Leonard said that travellers should look to other panoramic trains around Switzerland other than the iconic Glacier Express amid soaring demand.
“The Glacier Express is a very iconic scenic train, it’s an incredible experience. However, it’s something that globally has been so well marketed that it’s becoming harder and harder for people to even get reservations on,” he said. “So… if you can do the Glacier Express [that’s] great, but don’t say ‘Oh, I can’t get a ticket on that. I won’t go’.”
Leonard recommended the Bernina Express, the Golden Pass Express and the Gotthard Panorama Express as substitutes.
Over the next few years, agents can expect more AI being integrated into the platform to help improve customer service and provide even more intuitive and automative functionalities to enhance the overall experience. Check out the agent portal here.
(Featured Image L-R: Rail Europe’s GM APAC, Rich Leonard; CCO, Florence Pasquier; Grant Robertson, key account manager for NSW, ACT, QLD, WA & NT)