Srijit Nair, General Manager, Rail Europe India, discusses their new booking portal ERA – Easy Rail Access – which allows agents to make booking for all the European train journeys easily, as well as reaching a milestone of 90 fabulous years!
What is the current focus area for Rail Europe India right now?
Our current focus is to ensure that all the travel agents have access to our new booking portal ERA – Easy Rail Access – so that they can easily make booking for all the European train journeys. Travel agents can book through our GSAs, as most of them have integrated Rail Europe APIs in their booking platforms. Training has been an important focus area and we have been conducting various training programmes through our GSAs in tier 1, 2 and 3 cities within India, thereby educating travel agents and sharing our latest product offerings. Reconnect with travel partners is also one of our top focus areas and we have been attending and participating in various road shows and trade fairs.
What products are you promoting to the India market right now?
As we see an increasing demand for train travel in Europe, we are promoting all the train journeys within Europe in the India market. Switzerland, France and United Kingdom are the top destinations, and we see travellers taking the high-speed trains like Eurostar, Thalys and the TGVs. Apart from the high-speed trains, a lot of travellers are opting for regional and intercity trains. Swiss Travel Pass and Eurail Global Pass are widely promoted and sold in India, as many travellers see a great value in purchasing these passes, as they come with various benefits like free/ discounted mountain peaks, multiple travel on a single day, free access to famous museums, travel on scenic trains and children travelling free.
Is there any change in preferences of Indian travellers since the pandemic breakout?
Many Indian travellers are opting for longer stays and prefer mono destinations or maximum two countries to travel at once, thereby they can avoid various COVID protocols and restrictions, and this has resulted in a huge demand for passes like the Swiss Travel Pass or Eurail one country pass or the Eurail Global Mobile pass. There is a lot of awareness among travellers on sustainable travel and they prefer travelling by trains.
Any new development at RE?
This year, we are celebrating our 90th year of operation. At the start of the year, we had many offers, including up to 50 per cent discount on some journeys, in partnership with top European operators, including SNCF, Eurostar, Lyria, Alleo, TGV Est, Eurail, France-Spain High Speed Deutsche Bahn and Ouigo Spain. We are going to bring such offers throughout the year as part of the celebration. On the product roadmap, we are continuously adding many new sectors and offers.
Has there been any development on your training programmes?
We have launched our e-learning programme, The Rail Agent Course (TRAC), which is a comprehensive rail training programme. Travel agents and partners can register and complete the assigned modules and contests and win prizes. After completing the course, agents can earn The Rail Expert certificate. We are also updating this programme with more rail carrier modules.
What kind of bookings are you seeing from India right now?
There is a pent-up demand for the travel to Europe and we see a lot of leisure and family travellers opting for customised holidays, and we see a turnaround in business traveI too, as most of the corporates prefer train within Europe. Indians love travelling to Switzerland and France. So, there is a huge demand for Swiss passes, along with French train SNCF and Swiss France connecting trains.