Journey Notes, January 2021: A Note on Redefining the Passenger Experience

The global pandemic has had and continues to have an indelible impact on our routines, traditions, and sense of normalcy. Our focus shifted singularly and swiftly to maintaining the health and safety of our families, colleagues, and fellow citizens. As we have witnessed to date, the situation is dynamic in nature, yet we continue to take the necessary preventative steps to ensure that we are prepared for all future scenarios.

While we continue to battle the lasting effects of the pandemic, we have begun to look ahead, asking our customers what it means to be a transit operator in 2021.  The response is a disruptive – yet understandable – shift in priorities, operating, and capital budgets.

One theme resonated: as our society shifted in the way it moves and travels, keeping passengers safe – and satisfied – is more important than ever before.

It is, therefore, unsurprising to hear that passenger experience ranks as the number one transit topic to watch in 2021 according to Mass Transit Magazine. With studies indicating that transit use is a low-risk activity during the pandemic, “the new passenger experience will be based on the perception of reduced risk”. As passenger expectations continue to rise, so does the demand for transport operators to provide new services, that inform as well as entertain, and reliable onboard Wi-Fi is one of the most sought-after.

Here are 6 ways Wi-Fi (connectivity-as-a-service) can enhance the passenger experience: 

  1. Provide an added amenity: Passengers expect Wi-Fi as part of the journey.

Providing Wi-Fi bridges the digital divide among transit-dependent populations offering each passenger the opportunity to access high-quality, reliable Internet connectivity while in transit. As we emerge from the pandemic, remaining connected and productive while in transit will be a comforter and confidence booster. Internet connectivity while in transit is no longer seen as a luxury amenity for passengers, but a necessary service.

  1. Offer immersive entertainment: Keeping passengers entertained throughout the journey is one of the easiest ways to protect and improve the onboard experience.

Our recent acquisition of GoMedia, the world’s leading provider of onboard entertainment for public transport, delivers a complete, end-to-end passenger entertainment offering. Entertainment does not stop at Hollywood movies and TV series – it also includes opportunities for passengers to engage in virtual learning applications. Data shows that when passengers are engaged with content the perceived journey time reduces, this has a positive impact on propensity to travel.

  1. Allow two-way communication for full transparency: A passenger’s onboard experience can only improve when the operator wants to improve.

Utilizing applications for two-way communication allows operators the mechanism to listen and understand their customers. Offering passengers the ability to communicate with the operator during the journey is another way to bring back rider confidence.

Keeping abreast of a subpar experience allows operators to sustain their reputation as a mode with reliable connectivity. Facilitating trust with passengers requires meaningful communication, allowing operators to focus on the additional burdens of maintaining healthy and safe operating environments.

  1. Enable an end-to-end, information outlet: Implementing real-time information can be used to help improve customer service.

After drastic service reductions in 2020, passengers would welcome any certainty in their daily routines. Adding real-time connectivity to other traditional transport systems such as passenger information or passenger counting creates new possibilities to add value to the journey. Post- pandemic, it is critical that passengers can self-serve the information they need digitally through their own personal devices. This will reduce the friction of travel, but also increase confidence while onboard.

  1. Personalize the journey: Passengers continue to come in all forms – the essential worker, student or twice-a-week commuter.

Analyzing passenger preferences allows operators to tailor service offerings to better meet customer demands.  While a tourist on a longer journey may be more interested in streaming media content, a business traveler on a short morning commute may be more likely to want quick access to up-to-the-minute news. An entertainment service can only be successful if its content is relevant and up to date.

  1. Understand the new norm: Our travel routines and habits have shifted, and no one knows what the new norm will be or the different stages that this will take.

We are working with operators to collect in-journey feedback from customers while onboard. This data will be invaluable to the industry to understand changes in passenger routine, sentiment, and mindset. These will constantly change as we start traveling and we will need regular touch points with passengers to understand the changing landscape.

We believe that passengers will be expecting a higher level of customer experience after the pandemic and onboard Wi-Fi solutions allow operators to meet those expectations.

By focusing on the customer and their needs we can create an environment that will positively impact; confidence to travel, customer loyalty, retention, increased satisfaction, and overall positive customer experiences.

We have always been in the business of The Connected Journey; recent events have now made this even more important for passenger and operators. Connecting passengers to the productive work environment, giving them the real-time data to take control of their journey, letting them lose themselves in a great movie, and keeping loved ones updated on their route status, has never been more important.

Together, as an industry, let us make sure that public transport is at the heart of the recovery connecting people again.