Consumers expect more social media and technological convenience from their travel providers

By Mark Elliott

Accenture’s future of public transport research has shown that travellers are expecting a greater use of consumer technologies when making journeys. They are anticipating to be using their mobile phone as an electronic ticket this year, and have high expectations of public transport companies when it comes to communications via social media. The pressure is now on for these companies to deliver!

In today’s internet age, consumers are almost always “on” – consuming services and products or connecting with peers and companies. Smart phones and social media are heightening the demand for more efficient services. Yet many organisations lag the expectations of these travellers: for example, travellers want public transportation providers to communicate with them via social media.

90% of Accenture’s European rail survey respondents are interested in receiving information via social media about the latest transport prices and promotion, late running trains, changes in timetables and new technology – but only 25% of respondents said they receive communication via social media on a daily basis.

Connectivity is also key. Travellers on the European rail network are willing to pay to enhance their on-board comfort: being connected and entertained are top of the list, since 74% would welcome Wi-Fi and electric points for use by personal devices.

Among the same group of users, loyalty is driven by customization and rewards – 82% are keen to get customized offerings and are willing to provide personal information to operators to receive alerts. At least 74% of European respondents of the global public transport survey would be willing to pay at least 10% more for travel if it meant that they would be able to use a smartphone as a ticket while traveling or if there were other paperless travel options available.

European rail travellers would like consistent and clear pricing offers and would welcome price alerts via mail or text messages. Passengers are interested in receiving information in real-time on their mobile devices at the station to help find their transportation e.g.:

· 82% would like information to any change of train platforms

· 58% would like information on their carriage class location

· 58% would like information about obstacles on the way to the gate

London-specific findings across multiple modes of transport:

· 51 percent of passengers follow a public transportation provider on Facebook

· 45 percent follow a public transportation provider on Twitter

· The primary interests in following public transportation providers (on social media platforms) are:

o To get the latest prices and promotions (78 percent)

o To identify issues with late running trains/alerts (91 percent)

o To see changes in timetables (85 percent)

o To follow new technology introduction (72 percent)

o To provide customer feedback

It’s clear that digital-savvy consumers want to consume information in a more connected fashion, and rather than a challenge, this should be seen as presenting opportunities to rail operators, associated shops and service providers, and the digital marketing industry. It will be interesting to see how this demand will be met, and how smartly the industry can turn these demands to business advantage.

Accenture’s Future of Public Transportation research consists of:

· A European Passenger rail survey to understand their expectations in terms of information and technology (a balanced sample in seven countries in Western Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK) of 3,600 passengers surveyed September 2012

· A Public Transport Study to understand the opinions of travellers using a range of public transport methods in nine major cities, (Barcelona, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Washington DC). The 4500 passengers were surveyed August September and December 2012

· A Western European rail survey to understand 4,211 frequent and occasional travellers (from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK).

About the author

Mark Elliott, an executive with Accenture’s Infrastructure and Transportation Services, has been with Accenture for over 20 years and has been instrumental in developing Accenture’s global strategy within Public Transport in the last eight years. He has been working with public transport operators and authorities worldwide in a variety of areas including strategy, business case development and the deployment of multi-modal, multi-operator transport payment schemes. Most recently, Mark has been focused on developing Accenture’s Public Transport business in the United Kingdom. In addition Mark chairs the UK Intellect Transport Management committee.

About the company

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012.  


1. Accenture’s public transportation research news release:  

2. Accenture’s Public Transport research documents:  

3. Accenture’s infographic illustrating the key aspects of the research:  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s