For the first time in 24 years, Eurostar will be able to offer passengers travelling to the continent more than just the journey.
Here Breaking Travel News speaks to Roberto Abbondio, managing director of new digital business at Eurostar, about the move and what it means for consumers.
Breaking Travel News: Eurostar has just unveiled a collection of handpicked, boutique hotel offerings under the title Eurostar Hotel. In this time of unbundling, why should a consumer allow Eurostar to select their accommodation for them?
Roberto Abbondio: We have developed the collection with our customers centre of mind, taking into account their previous favourite venues, as well as highly recommended hotels and preferred geographies of our destination cities.
As the majority of our colleagues live in our key destinations, we know them intimately, and look forward to opening them up in a whole new way for our passengers.
We will have deeper relationships with the hotels, in many cases offering special Eurostar exclusive treats and offers for our guests when they arrive.
BTN: Where are the properties based?
RA: Our initial collection of properties covers our seven key destinations – London, Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Lille and Disney, with the number of passengers we see travel to those destinations being reflected in the proportionate size of the collection within each.
We are currently working on expanding the hotel offering to Rotterdam and our destinations in the south of France (Lyon, Avignon and Marseille) over the summer.
How do the hoteliers feel about it, with Eurostar taking a percentage of the sales?
RA: We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the hotels we are working with, who are excited to be part of the collection.
By recommending our passengers towards a more highly curated selection they will benefit from increased bookings from our markets, and so in turn can offer us more exclusive deals for our customers.
It is a virtuous cycle that works well for the hotels and our passengers alike.
BTN: How is Eurostar able to use the data it acquires from passengers to develop its services? Is the main aim to develop ancillary revenues?
RA: Data that is acquired consensually from our passengers is used directly to improve Eurostar’s offering, as well as look to expand our product portfolio with complementary products that our customer base have shown an interest in.
In particular we will look to customer feedback to evolve our collection to ensure it is reflective of their needs.
BTN: Personalisation has been the main focus from a technology perspective – how is Eurostar able to tailor its services to its passengers?
RA: We are currently working on the ways we can present our expanding portfolio of travel services and products to our customers online in a way that is much more relevant for them.
As opposed to blanket information about all of our products to all customers, we want to work towards a much more customised approach whereby we can suggest services for your particular circumstances.
For example, if you’re arriving into one of our cities late, would you like a taxi for ease?
Travelling with small children, would you like us to transport your luggage from your home to your hotel?
In particular with our hotels product, we are tagging our accommodation with themes to ensure that we can make recommendations on the type of hotel you may want for different styles of break, e.g. foodie, retail, or family focussed trips.
BTN: Instead of acquiring technology from third-party, we have taken a bold step and decided to create, in-house, a brand new digital travel retail platform – what are the advantages of doing this?
RA: We have aimed to thoroughly futureproof our travel retail platform and keep it entirely customisable.
The additional up front work will pay off as by developing in-house, we will retain control and have the ultimate ability to work seamlessly with multiple providers.
BTN: Is my data secure with Eurostar?
RA: Yes it is.
Eurostar is ISO27001 accredited, which means demonstrates that information security is managed at Eurostar in line with international best practice.
The new hotel collection has been curated by Eurostar to provide travellers with the best selection of high quality city-centre hotels across all price-points, grouped in different themes to make booking the ideal trip quick and easy.
From design gems to gastronomic hot-spots, the new platform will help customers identify the perfect, tried and tested hotel.
Find out more on the official website.