Eurostar, the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe today reported an encouraging start to the year with growth in sales revenues during the first three months of the year. Compared to the same period in 2012, sales revenues grew by 1% to £213 million (£211 million Q1 2012), while passenger numbers remained stable year-on-year at 2.23 million (2.24 million Q1 2012).
Solid performance in challenging environment
The ongoing economic uncertainty throughout Europe continues to influence business travel patterns in particular as many organisations maintain a close eye on corporate travel budgets. However, in spite of an extended period of unseasonably cold and wintry weather the continuing resilience of Eurostar’s leisure travel market has helped deliver the solid performance in Q1 reported today.
Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:
“This is an encouraging start to the year in spite of the challenges posed by both the economy and the weather. Our sales revenues have grown during a quarter which saw heavy snowfalls and some of the coldest temperatures on record in the South of England and Northern France. This quarter’s performance is testament to our enduring popularity with regular and first time travellers alike.”
Continuing boom in international traffic
Supporting the delivery of a solid performance over the first three months of the year, a number of marketing initiatives both domestically and internationally have helped underpin the growth in sales revenues.
In January, Eurostar ran its most successful consumer promotion ever with 150,000 seats available from only £59 return for travel between London and Paris, Brussels or Lille. Over the course of the promotion sales exceeded even those made during the ash cloud disruption in 2010, previously Eurostar’s strongest ever booking period.
Similarly, an ongoing focus on international marketing campaigns has delivered impressive growth in both passenger numbers and sales revenues for travel originating outside the EU. In the first three months of the year non-EU originated sales revenues grew 10% while passenger numbers increased by 8% compared to the same period in 2012.
Reflecting the increasing strategic importance of Eurostar’s website as a direct sales channel for passengers originating outside the EU, total sales revenues generated via online bookings in Eurostar’s largest international market, the USA, have shown particularly strong growth in the first three months of the year, up 20%.
Ongoing investment to support growth
Further demonstrating its ongoing commitment to investment across the business, Eurostar recently took the wraps off its brand new consumer facing website. This is a central element of Eurostar’s ambitious growth plans and has transformed the customer experience when booking online.
The new website simplifies and speeds up the booking process and since launch has reduced the average amount of time taken to book a ticket by more than 40% from eight minutes to four and a half minutes.
The launch marks the first stage of a significant investment by Eurostar in digital technology which will see a raft of new features added to the site over the coming months.
Nicolas Petrovic continued:
“The transformation of eurostar.com is part of a wider investment in our business designed to ensure we continue to offer our customers the best possible end-to-end travel experience. In addition to this investment in our ‘virtual shop-window’, our £700m programme of investment in our fleet of trains which encompasses the refurbishment of the existing Eurostar fleet and the purchase of 10 new trains is progressing well.”