Hats off to our student campaigners

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Well, that’s freshers’ fairs done for another year and time to hang up our hats – all of them – and catch up with the day job!

Students represent a very important market to Arriva, and with many unable to drive or not allowed to take cars to university, it is vital we get our buses and ticketing offers spot on for them.

Our colleagues in the regional bus companies have years of experience behind them in getting this bit right so, that done, the key then is getting the message across. Talking to freshers – the new, first-year students – is completely different from attracting the attention of the more seasoned ‘old hands’ in subsequent years, and we use a variety of channels to reach them.

For the new starters emails through UCAS – the body that manages university admissions – are important, as we’re able to be there shortly after they get their offers of places, when the mind-set is about preparing for the major life-change and the parental bank account is on hand for such eventualities. This is reinforced by more traditional media advertising at the universities where we are key providers of bus services, plus online and social media activity.

Attendance at the freshers’ fairs can cement the relationship between Arriva and its future student customers. Typically these events are organised by the student unions and provide a platform for student clubs and societies and external suppliers to engage with the young people, hopefully win their interest and put a human face to an otherwise potentially faceless body. Our neighbouring stalls at the various events attended demonstrate the diversity of the messaging bombarding the new students – we’ve been sandwiched between the Chess Society and a variety of religious and lifestyle groups, a burrito outlet and a well-known alcopop brand!

This year our online campaign invited students to ‘Win a Round the World Trip for two people’ – a simple prize draw mechanic with a startlingly attractive prize. Complementing this theme on social media students were invited to share photographs of themselves wearing stereo-typical hats representing nationalities from around the world on Twitter and Instagram with a #DestinationArriva hashtag. Winners were selected to receive prizes drawn from a £10,000 prize pot including things like iPods, designer sunglasses, designer swimwear, Go-Pro cameras, shopping trips, and similar rewards attractive to the target audience. Canvassing entries provided the main hook at the freshers’ fair events, both as a conversation opener and a highly visual spectacular to attract attention in a sea of special offers and wacky promotions! Take-up was excellent and we are looking forward to a good return on investment for the campaign.

2 thoughts on “Hats off to our student campaigners

  1. Along with many bigger households on tight budgets students need to plan their travel, and welcome a package that offers a real deal.

    John Waugh saw this 20 years ago with his Unilink package – a guaranteed sale of 3000 student annual bus passes, plus staff and visitor campus inter-site use of scheduled services (cheaper than running a special university minibus, and offering a greater frequency etc). In return of the bite at a substantial % of the daily journeys generated by the University the operator registered services tailored to that demand, and the general public gained a wider choice of bus services.

    But look beyond this – at what TEC did in Belgium in 2009, and what the annual Car Plus survey highlights every year. Offer a package which can include discounted membership of a car club, or car hire option for the times when a bus might not be the best solution – this means that instead of owning a car which sits idle the person has the bus for regular trips and access to a car for the special ones. Likewise bike hire – a local campus network for the really local trips, and the ease of switching to another mode when appropriate. Note also that the bikes can be used for local promotion of bus fare and rail fare (Cross Country) bargains

    The annual survey of car club members indicates that they make more use of buses, trains and bikes than the UK National average, so a forward thinking transport conglomerate should be delivering a transport equivalent of the utilities packages now widely available – electricity, gas, phone, internet and cable TV, often offered all in a single wrapper by a single supplier. Your parent company DB, already delivers bike hire, car hire and bus services – time to catch up perhaps?

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