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The Passenger Rights Charter and How it Has Changed the Travel Industry

Passenger Rights - Plane

The past ten years have seen the EU Passenger Rights Charter introduce passenger protection measures across all modes of transport. The latest introduction has seen the same set of obligations extended to ferries and cruise ships, which will also be applied to Bus and Coach by March 2013.

A particular piece of the Charter that interests me is the communications element. Transport suppliers have a responsibility to communicate accurate, timely and accessible information to their passengers, before their purchase and journey and in case of disruption. With the ever-changing face of technology, suppliers should also take advantage of new technologies such as Mobile Messaging and Smartphone Applications.

“New technologies are encouraged for all modes, e.g. the use of Smartphone applications, websites as well as social media.”

Source: A European vision for Passengers: Communication on Passenger Rights in all transport modes

Our own clients have been affected by the new changes and I am intrigued to find out how this pressure has and will affect the travel industry and communications strategies of suppliers. Have they evolved to keep in line with the Charter? Should mobile be considered as the primary communications channel with passengers?

From the experience I’ve had with working with the travel industry, mobile should definitely be considered as a part of any communication strategy. Mobile usage is increasing, and will to continue to grow, with handsets and technology continually being developed.

Helping Aer Lingus

A particular client of ours, Irish airline Aer Lingus, has taken advantage of our SMS Gateway. The mobile medium has helped them improve their communications with passengers during problematic situations. Within 3-4 for weeks of going live, Aer Lingus encountered a problem with a flight from Malaga, where the plane needed to return earlier than expected.

Passengers were notified about the situation and 75% arrived ahead of schedule, whereas that figure would have been 10% at best. Messaging passengers through their mobile also helped during the threat of volcanic ash during 2010, and the harsh winter of 2010/11.

Thinking Mobile

Email has become a common form of communication but in this instance when messages need to be read within minutes and are made at unsociable hours means it isn’t as effective as mobile messaging.

These demands will only increase the move towards a more mobile focused communication strategy, and as Gina Baillie from EyeforTravel predicted, travel brands who understand the benefit of mobile and how it can enhance the traveler experience will be the biggest winners in 2013.

75% of the global population has access to a mobile phone, and 98% mobile messages are read within 15 minutes. The use of mobile is on the increase, and the benefit it will have on communication strategies in the travel industry is about to move to a whole new level.

Have your say: Have you been affected by the Passenger Rights Charter? How has this pressure changed the way you communicate with your passengers? Do you plan to mobilise your communication strategy? Leave your comments below…

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