From API partnerships that facilitate a cohesive online customer journey to chatbots and voice-activated search, rail travel distribution is transforming.
Online travel agencies and metasearch companies have predominantly focused on hotels and flights, but now rail is finally going digital. This revolution of the rail sector was a hot topic at the recent EyeforTravel Europe Summit – and where better to talk about it than in the UK, which has more train stations than the world has airports!
Little wonder that this travel vertical is starting to see more attention from technology providers, as they aim to streamline and integrate the rail booking process. “Most travel companies don’t sell rail because it is a complex product to sell. It is often state run and there is a history of protectionism. However, it is a very efficient way to move people and it is 90% more eco friendly than air,” said Cameron Jones, CCO, SilverRail Technologies, who spoke on a panel titled How API Partnerships Are Going To Change Our Business Forever.
According to Jones, around 80% of bookers go direct to the supplier – the rail operator. They use the supplier’s website, but there is often a lack of consistency in these. SilverRail provides a third-party platform to power the lifecycle of a rail booking, and aims to connect the rail sector with the rest of the travel cycle. At present, more than 35 rail carriers from seven countries use SilverRail for journey planning or to power rail bookings.
Both rail operators and online travel agencies (OTAs) can use the SilverRail API, providing a consistency to the booking process, as the user interfaces will look similar. Jones explained: “We provide channel consistency across web and mobile. This helps drive frequency and loyalty.”
Using a third-party API, such as SilverRail, also provides the opportunity to cross sell or package rail with other products, such as hotels, car rental or attractions. For example, Expedia started selling rail via the SilverRail API six months ago.
Read more at EyeforTravel