Travel Tech

Trains are becoming an increasingly invaluable place for businesses to target consumers. The idea of this was unthinkable not that long ago, except for the presence of a refreshments trolley travelling up and down the aisle. But with people now constantly connected to the Internet via mobile devices, any train journey is turned into a potential shopping experience. And recent research has shown that this is probably the most likely time that people will actually utilise the Internet and complete commercial purchases.


It is no surprise then that research conducted by KBH On-Train Media indicates that rail users are spending as much as half of their journey time utilising a connected device. Considering the popularity of Internet shopping, it is equally unsurprising that a significant proportion of this time is being spent browsing products and services and ultimately making purchases.

KBH On-Train Media studied the responses of over 2,000 rail users aged between 18 and 64, who travel at least once a week. And the survey ultimately found that this rather broad demographic represents an extremely connected audience. 82 percent of travellers surveyed owned a smartphone, and the overwhelming majority of these individuals regularly use mobile devices while travelling via rail.

However, despite the fact that rail users are evidently enamoured with their mobile devices, it does not mean that other forms of advertising go unnoticed. Despite being seemingly glued to their devices, rail users are still able to engage with their surroundings, with 94 percent saying that they notice 'traincard' advertising.

And this form of advertising definitely has a significant impact. Nearly half of those that reported the acknowledgement of traincard advertising stated that they have ultimately researched something that they saw advertised, while one-third spoke to another person about an in-train advertisement they had witnessed. Ultimately, one-quarter of those that have seen an in-train advertisement make a purchase based on it, so this is clearly a fertile source of commercial income.


Traincards can also tend to stimulate spontaneous purchases. The most popular time for respondents to have purchased a service or product they'd seen on an on-train ad was later the same day (29 percent), with 20 percent doing so while still travelling on that train. A similar number stated that they had made a traincard-related purchase within days of witnessing the advertisement.

Payment methods that are popular on trains are also well worth noting. It is clear from this report that PayPal is the clearly favoured choice of payment on mobile platforms, with 52 percent of travellers most likely to utilise this service. However, there is an increasing interest in paying via debit and credit cards on mobile platforms, with 45 percent of respondents indicating that they would opt for this payment method.

Although mobile wallet and payment applications will unquestionably become important in the foreseeable future, the research also indicated that they have some way to go to reach significant market penetration. Only 2 percent of those surveyed stated that they would currently expect to utilise these for an on-train online purchase. Of course, such services as Apple Pay are yet to really get off the ground, and we can certainly expect to see this number increasing significantly in the coming years.


What the report indicates is that the number of rail users is significantly increasing, and this is having an impact on the diversity of activities that are carried out on trains. Pressure on commuters' time is greater than ever, and consequently on-train time can be an incredibly active part of people's existence. The time where people were willing to merely peer out of the window has seemingly passed for good. Both shopping and the planning of leisure activities are becoming extremely popular, and commuters are also using their train journeys to catch up on the latest entertainment and news.

Internet connectivity on rail is already at a good level, but this is also expected to increase as rail companies' income rises in line with increased passenger numbers. Numerous major carriers in the United Kingdom indicate that they intend to invest significantly in Wi-Fi in the short-term, and this will only see rail passengers capitalising on these improvements still further.

Ultimately, travel-related companies and brands have an excellent opportunity to target connected rail consumers at a time when they are particularly receptive to commercial messages. Rail journeys can actually be an enjoyable and relaxing time for people, when they have the opportunity to research, browse and make purchase decisions in a relatively unfettered environment.

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