As I look back on another successful Catch the Bus Week, both for Arriva and the industry as a whole, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and pride at the major hand Arriva played in establishing this now annual event.
Back in 2012, we wondered what we could do to promote bus travel to infrequent and non-users – a major challenge as far as the latter is concerned. The answer seemed simple: a PR-led marketing campaign to espouse the benefits of bus travel – environmental, value for money, more ‘me’ time etc – but also an opportunity to link up with other operators, PTEs and local authorities to create a much louder industry voice. Get Greener Journeys on board, some ministerial backing and there you have it, Catch the Bus Week was born!
As an incentive to attract new customers, we offered a free Day Saver ticket via our m-ticket app, available only during Catch the Bus Week. This was a great ploy for two reasons: we were able to encourage more downloads of the app itself, as well as being able to track subsequent sales and learn more about individual customer behaviour.
The figures speak for themselves; in the first two years we attracted more than 21,000 new m-ticket customers, many of whom are now regular users and all of whom sit on our database. This has long been the holy grail of many marketers in the bus industry, which as we know is very cash dominated. To have the ability to monitor journey habits and make more commercially informed marketing decisions is perhaps not priceless, but certainly worth the cost of a few free m-tickets!
It is incredible to think that around 80% of our current on-bus revenue is still cash-driven, outside of London. But that 20% is rising all the time and with e-commerce, smart card and mobile technologies continuing to develop, this is the road we must go down to drive our business, and our customer insight, in the right direction.