Digital Loyalty Programmes in Public Transport

This article breaks down how public transport organisations can take advantage of loyalty programmes.

It’s a fact that a huge swathe of society is dependent on public transport, and that the organisations behind them are a vital part of civic infrastructure. However, the great profusion of privately owned transport companies have a huge incentive to make their transport more appealing to potential customers.

One way of doing this is through digital loyalty programs aimed at conditioning commuters into becoming staunch supporters of your transport brand. So, what does it take to make a successful digital loyalty programme in the public transport sector, and what examples should one look to?

This article will explore what loyalty programmes are and how they operate, the benefits they can confer on public transport enterprises, and analyse a few examples of effective loyalty programs launched by other brands. Read on to learn more.

What is a loyalty programmes?

In brief, a loyalty programme is a way of incentivising existing customers to repeatedly use your services or purchase your products: offering appealing rewards and other concrete benefits to them over time to condition them to remain more faithful.

Although loyalty programs can take many different forms depending on the industry they are applied to, for our purposes here, we’ll only concern ourselves with the three relevant to the public transport sector. To whit:

  • Point-based: Customers gain new points after each purchase. After accumulating enough points, customers can redeem them later and make new purchases for free.
  • Subscription: In this model, customers will subscribe and pay a regular fee, which entitles them to select rewards like special offers, gifts, or experiences. 
  • Free perks: These programmes reward customers with free perks, gifts, or discounts when they perform certain actions.

Benefits of loyalty programs

According to recent research from SalesForce, a whopping 78% of consumers have stated that they’re more likely to buy from a brand with a loyalty program. This means that loyalty programs are an ideal method of guaranteeing dependable, long-term revenue which, in turn, promotes further corporate growth.

Furthermore, digital loyalty programs also have the added value of providing free marketing to your brand. By rewarding positive customer behaviour through a system of rewards, you’ll be able to foster a positive emotional connection in your target consumers to your enterprise. In doing so, you’ll have the potential to transform your loyal customers into brand advocates, who will recommend you to friends and family and spread the word about your brand.

Lastly, for public transport companies, loyalty programs also have the added value of providing a wealth of useful data on the needs and preferences of commuters. Through this data, you’ll be able to better understand which journeys and destinations are the most important to your customers, and what kinds of perks motivate them to stay loyal down the line.

Case studies

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of loyalty programs, let’s consider some public transport companies that have already integrated them effectively.

Club Eurostar

Eurostar’s train loyalty program has proven particularly effective with British and European travellers, with members earning points for every journey they make.

Members can get reduced or free tickets and upgraded seats as they rack up more points. The program also works via a tier-based system, with higher echelons gaining access to a number of membership rewards like partner discounts and special offers.

Furthermore, Eurostar has also partnered with a number of other brands, such as Hertz hire car company, and American Express — meaning that members can transfer points earned through their train journeys for rewards such as discounted hotel or automobile reservations.

Más Renfe

Spain’s state-owned rail company also boasts its own loyalty program, called ‘Más

Renfe.’ This program allows users to accrue Renfe Points with train bookings and via partner companies

The tier-based system, running from silver to platinum, allows commuters to store points for travel access and other appealing perks. For instance, the silver tier provides members with a 50% annual ticket discount, while Platinum offers three free seat upgrades every year.

Deutsche Bahn

The German transport company Deutsche Bahn has also successfully launched its own loyalty program for business travellers, known as ‘Deutsche BahnBonus.’ The program covers all business trips made within the country, as well as journeys to Sweden, the Netherlands, and Croatia, among others.

Deutsche Bahn has leveraged its loyalty program to aid its ESG objectives. In addition to offering points-based rewards, points purchased can also be used to access perks from the brand’s 100% renewable energy offering, DB Strom, helping the company meet its sustainability goals.

Furthermore, members can also donate their points to a selection of charities (if they choose), which provides excellent PR for the brand as a whole.

Create Winning Loyalty Programs With Future Platforms

Clearly, we can see from the above that loyalty programs can be highly beneficial to brands and travellers alike. So, if your public transport company already doesn’t boast one, where should you start?

Your best bet is to start by building a mobile application for your program. This will allow you to gamify the program, make it appealing to potential members, and ensure that it is easily accessible and reaches a wide user base. You’ll also be able to access customer data that will inform you of what kind of rewards or experiences your customers are looking for, and respond accordingly.

Are you a transport company looking to craft your own personal loyalty programme? If so, Future Platforms can help you get your app off the ground. We boast a motivated and experienced team of devs and designers, who will work with you to create a digital loyalty program that your customers won’t be able to live without.

So, if you’d like to know more about our services, then reach out and contact our team today.