Ramy Salameh gets aboard a perfectly ‘MICE’ experience on Eurostar.
The announcement that Eurostar has recently launched exclusive ‘on-board experiences’ is a realisation of an initiative that the train operator has been working towards for some time to create.
In the last few years Eurostar has brought on track new and refurbished stock; introduced technology innovations, arranged bespoke events on their trains and, most recently, expanded the route network to include Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
In 2017, Eurostar hosted an on-board Masterclass for business start-ups travelling from London to Paris for the ‘VivaTech’ conference, welcoming prominent speakers.
The goal was to challenge start-ups to find innovative ways to improve the customer experience, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition and passenger flow analytics. This, and other events, paved the way to assessing the compatibility between the MICE sector and such experiences, showing there to be demand and appetite in making journeys more experiential for a variety of audiences.
Inge Bauwens, Eurostar business development manager, MICE, said: “We wanted to offer those travelling in a group a new way to make the most out of their time on-board. Taking advantage of the space available on board and freedom to move around.”
MCI Experience, the new brand experience agency arm of MCI Global, is one agency that can see real synergy with the product. “For truly engaging experiences there needs to be a correlation between the digital and live experience that allows active participation from the target audience,” says Kim Myhre, MCI Experience MD.
Utilising, what is effectively ‘dead time’ when travelling for business between destinations, has always been an issue.
Now Eurostar has created a model that allows for memorable experiences.
The new e320 trains offer more space than before and the introduction of screens creates another opportunity to display bespoke content.
So what do these experiences look like?
Well, an experiential journey with Eurostar could meander through the world of ‘wine tastings’, uncorking surprising vino from unexpected destinations, or be an exercise in securing the latest ‘Fashion and Beauty’ tips and insights or seasonal clothing and cosmetic trends, delivered by experts in their field.
There are also opportunities to view a destination through the eyes of an art historian or to rub shoulders with a rugby star for those heading out to watch an International rugby game.
“All these concepts can be tailored to be part of the event programme and provide an interesting platform for event organisers to explore ‘on-the-go’ meetings, ‘on-board’ engagement and sustained brand experience,” says Myhre.
With a key office in the Dutch capital, MCI Amsterdam is delighted by Eurostar’s route extension to the Dutch Capital.
The on-board experiences are bookable from September.
Peter Willem Burgmans, MCI Amsterdam managing director, says:
“Travelling this way offers a wide array of options and adequate space to ‘play with’. More importantly, it promotes originality and creativity. We welcome this development and look forward to capitalising on this in the future.”
He adds that the timeframe (Eurostar’s direct service from London to Amsterdam takes 3hr: 41) is enough to create an experience that not only keeps people engaged using smart technologies, but also promotes scope for substantial networking.”
Dutch hospitality supplier The Apollo Hotel Group is confident the Eurostar route extension and ‘on-board experiences’ is a positive step toward attracting more business to Amsterdam, where the group has three hotels with strong MICE credentials in Amsterdam alone. The newest of these is the Apollo Hotel Vinkeveen – Amsterdam & Event Centre, which provides 1,300sqm of dedicated meetings space and a private marina.
Eurostar’s on-board experiences show the operator is thinking ahead and keeping itself at the forefront of the rail renaissance.