Magazine article Marketing

Taking the Train to Britain

Magazine article Marketing

Taking the Train to Britain

Article excerpt

Eurostar is gathering pace but many UK travellers are still resisting the idea of train travel to Europe, writes Harriet Marsh

In its current advertising campaign, Eurostar relies on the appeal of French icons Eric Cantona and Antoine de Caunes to portray the service as the gateway to Europe. However, recently released passenger figures suggest that the UK consumer's intrinsic distrust of train travel has yet to be fully overcome.

At present 50% of Eurostar passengers originate in the UK, France contributes 40% and Belgium 10%. While UK passenger figures are rising, it is still way off its target of originating 60% of passengers.

"The French and Belgians are more used to the idea of longer train journeys and efficient high-speed trains," says Eurostar marketing director Mark Furlong. "In Europe our objectives are different, we are selling a new product and a new destination, not a train service."

In his continued bid to convince the UK punter of the joys of train travel, Furlong is focusing on improving the service available on Eurostar. "We have got the pricing strategy right and the advertising strategy is getting there," he says. "Our key objective and our focus is investment in the product."

This autumn Eurostar introduces its four-tier service: Premium First, Business First, Premium Standard and Standard. The company will also bring airline service standards to the railways with the launch of on-board meeting rooms, on-board duty paid shopping, free taxi transfers for Premium First passengers and a check-in time of only ten minutes before departure for Business and Premium First classes.

The company will continue to segment its product offering, with the launch in 1997 of three ski trains which will travel direct to resorts in the Alps from London's Waterloo.

Eurostar's link-up with key European destinations is already working in its favour: the Disneyland Paris Eurostar has been credited with dramatically increasing passenger figures in the traditionally poor month of August. …

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