Roger Matthews, Managing Director of GoMedia, explores how train operators should take advantage of their on-board infotainment system to drive ancillary revenue and form deeper relationships with passengers.
The on-board infotainment revolution is a huge opportunity for train operating companies (TOCs) across Europe and beyond. It’s a chance to boost ancillary revenue and bring about a profound change in relationships with passengers by offering a more personalised experience. To stand out though, operators joining this revolution must now provide free, world-class entertainment, which is more beneficial than pay-per-view avenues.
GoMedia’s understanding of this issue comes from working with leading operators like Eurostar, Virgin Trains and National Express, who have all recently launched state-of-the-art on-board systems that are proving extremely popular with passengers. These systems yield improved passenger satisfaction levels post-launch, with one operator in particular recently reporting a 6% increase in satisfaction from an already impressive 80% to 86% in the space of just three months.
As well as creating the operator’s infotainment portal, GoMedia also handles content-sourcing and digital rights management, so they also understand the viewpoint of content owners, whether for blockbuster movies, catch-up TV, box sets or games. From these insights, GoMedia is now advising operators that the following approaches are the best ways of monetising on-board infotainment, meeting the needs of operators and publishers alike…
Effective sponsorship and advertising
Sponsorship and advertising is a vital revenue stream that can be used to target passengers when connected to the on-board infotainment system. For example, pre-roll video ads – online video commercials – can appear after a passenger launches an infotainment system or just before they view content. These adverts can be targeted to particular demographics on the basis of usage history. Partnering with high-profile advertisers represents a significant opportunity. One operator is already enjoying a successful partnership with bookmakers, Betfred, streaming service NOW TV and digital magazine service Readly, who are all reporting impressive sign-up numbers.
The power of taster content
Sometimes you only need to see one episode of a TV series and you’re hooked. In another partnership that has proved highly successful, NOW TV is offering taster episodes of hit shows to passengers who use an on-board infotainment system available via web browser or an app (iOS and Android), so passengers can sample content before they sign-up. This approach is popular with content providers and transport operators who want to have premium content on-board.
A spot of shopping to pass the time
Transport operators can also reap the rewards of partnerships with online retailers. Here, passengers connecting to the on-board infotainment system are offered special deals by a retail partner, with the transport operator receiving a commission. Other potential sources of ancillary revenue include at-seat ordering, destination deals and first-class upgrades.
Using their own smartphone, tablet or laptop, it’s quick and easy for users; a key advantage of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach. And TOCs that run coach and bus services can extend their bespoke infotainment delivery to the next stage of a passenger’s onward journey.
The bigger picture
Making content free to view encourages many more passengers to use the on-board infotainment system, which brings further important benefits. For a start, it helps reduce perceived journey times, again making for happier travellers.
Meanwhile, data gathered as passengers interact with infotainment systems can reveal crucial insights about their preferences. And transport companies can also slash their cellular backhaul costs when higher-bandwidth content is streamed via the on-board Wi-Fi, freeing up the mobile network for lower-bandwidth use by other passengers.
New ancillary revenue streams, reduced costs and an improved customer experience; all based on giving content away for free. This is a revolution indeed.