The Business Travel Magazine April/May 2019

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Rail travel / Booking tools

API links let you offer

things that aren’t done

elsewhere, such as seeing rail

and air side by side”

The DfT says: “Our ambition is to ensure

that across regional and urban commuter

areas, smart ticketing can deliver the kind

of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) structure that is

used in London.”

While online platforms Evolvi and Trainline

concentrate on the wider deployment of

paperless travel, their systems have

developed to the point that there is little

worthwhile functionality to add. But it

remains a concern that some developments

are only available through train operators

direct, and not through intermediaries.

Will Hasler, speaking on behalf of the ITM,

says: “There is concern about fares only

available through train operator websites,

although this is more of a problem with

airlines. But we want parity so that whatever

train operators deliver to the public is

available through our systems.

“For example, Virgin Trains has been

creative with auto-refunds when you book

through its own channels, but not through

intermediaries. The problem is that if you

book through Evolvi or Trainline, or thirdparty

systems such as KDS or Concur, the

operator can’t see who you are.”

This limits the delivery of useful information

to the traveller, such as notification of delays.

But intermediaries can develop their own

technology, such as Trainline which now has

AI-powered voice alerts for disruption, using

data from train operators’ Twitter feeds.

Capita Travel and Events has developed its

own rail booking tool using an API link from

Evolvi. Head of Proposition – Rail and Ground

Transportation, Josh Collier, says: “API links let

you offer things that aren’t done elsewhere,

such as seeing rail and air side by side. Some

content is not available through API links –

mobile ticketing is a prime example that

booking tool providers must work on.”

Consultant Raj Sachdave of Black Box

Partnerships says: “More and more sales are

going through the API route, which allow you

to be really creative with the content.

“For example you could be sent a reminder

that your train goes soon and you need to

get going, or an app could be used to deliver

catering to your seat. Rail booking also needs

to integrate with other means of ground

transport, including Uber.”

Some intermediaries, such as Click, enable

split ticketing through their systems when

this cost-saving approach is not offered by

the main online platforms.

Click’s Chris Vince says: “We offer split

ticketing, but we shouldn’t be in a position

where it’s necessary. You can always have

fewer clicks, but only when the rail industry

simplifies fares.”

[ THE PRICE IS RIGHT ]

Evolvi had another successful year in 2018

when it increased tickets sales and achieved a

small decrease in the average ticket value

(ATV) paid despite the annual increase (3.3%)

in regulated rail fares.

Analysis of 9.4 million transactions, up from

8.6 million in 2017, found that the ATV of

£56.32 last year compared to £56.83 in 2017.

IT Director Andrew Cantrell says: “When you

consider that the ATV in 2012 stood at £61.81,

the growing adoption of Evolvi’s smart fares

search functionality and comprehensive policy

options has consistently enabled rail users to

beat the effect of annual fares increases.

“It’s a great example of technology optimising

budgets by setting controls, adding value

through analytics, and simplifying navigation

through what is the most complex fares

structure in the world.”

Evolvi is also seeing growing enthusiasm for

paperless ticketing in the corporate sector,

particularly with increasing availability of

tickets that go straight into travel wallets and

do not require activation prior to travel.

“We need a system

that better reflects the

digital economy, which

uses mobile technology

to create value for

passengers”

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is overseeing

the rapid roll-out of barcoded tickets across

all operators and all routes,” adds Cantrell.

“This is something that will enhance the

experience of increasingly tech-savvy business

travellers. We hope that progress will now be

made on the inter-operability that will unlock

the government’s vision for network-wide

paperless travel.

“We also welcome the proposal submitted to

the Williams Review by RDG and Transport

Focus for a more transparent, modern system

of ticketing and fares, based on the principles

of simplicity and value for money. We need a

system that better reflects the digital economy,

which uses mobile technology to create value

for passengers, and which opens up

opportunities to bear down on costs.”

74 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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