UK Transportation is Off The Rails – Why Businesses Should Be Tracking Social Sentiment

Kimberly Surico |
 08/22/18 |
3 min read

There are few things most workers despise more than going to work on Monday morning, and chief among them is the morning commute. Now imagine paying £32 a day to travel to work on
top of it and you can take that hate and spray it with glitter, so it can be an impossible mess like the UK’s rail system. Riders are furious. Retailers should be breaking out their social media listening tools and taking note!

Fly To Work or Skip It Entirely?

Did you know that “some train tickets can cost up to 450 per cent more than a flight fare” abroad? It’s really that ridiculous in the UK right now. “Travelling from Kings Cross Station to York costs on average £127 one way, which equates to 59p per mile” OR, “Britons could fly to Berlin (£60), Amsterdam, (£23), Dublin (£18) and Copenhagen (£12) for £113.”
Rates have been rising steadily in the past decade, offering promises of improved service, but that doesn’t appear to be happening.

And it’s become cheaper to go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it:

What Happened and Why Care?

The past year has been pretty awful for commuters in the UK, and with the recent proposed 3.2% rise in rates, things have hit the boiling point. “Commuters and campaigners intensified calls for a freeze in fares, in a year in which promised improvements to the railway did not materialise, strikes disrupted services and the May timetable change resulted in the cancellation of tens of thousands of trains, particularly across Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway.”

Politicians have jumped into the fray, calling for accountability and whatnot.

But it doesn’t add up too much, with rates consistently chugging forward and families, businesses and jobs suffering. It’s a really sad social sentiment story on the surface, and as you dig deeper it just gets worse.

Helping Commuters Rethink Options

The rail system doesn’t care about its public image at this time because it doesn’t need to – it’s the only good option many commuters have for travel. But “good” is relative and an inconsistent timetable for departures and arrivals on top of highway robbery rates is enough to make those commuters extremely open to options.

Other modes of transportation could easily step in and disrupt this market.

Uber has had its share of problems in the UK, but appears to be up and running, so an enterprising individual could drive for them and create a tidy business. And using Uber instead of the rail would likely cost much less and offer greater reliability. Or, offering a comedy car . . . yes, that’s a thing:

And then buses could be a good option, with fares as low as £1 at Megabus. And what about pedicabs? Those human-powered bicycle taxis could offer a perfect solution for a young entrepreneur. A fleet of comedy pedicabs, perhaps? Maybe not.

But the ideas are out there waiting to be exploited and the time is ripe for transportation innovation, obviously. Social listening can help narrow that field and find the next Uberesque option.

Give a Little, Get a Lot

And what can other businesses take away from this? Lots. Retailers who show empathy and connect with commuters impacted, or – better still – those who offer special discounts for hard-pressed consumers, could significantly grow their audience base in relatively short amount of time.

Maybe you can create economical options for daily concerns – like maybe you give a free rain poncho to each pedicab rider, as it rains a lot in London (not as much as one thinks, but enough to make a rain poncho a welcome gift). Or you realize you live on a particularly late-running rail line and decide to stay open later to accommodate these weary travelers – maybe even advertise your locale as a good waiting place? It all fits in to a smart marketing mix, one you can track for effectiveness with a bit of planning and a side of creativity.

Reaching new segments is easy as monitoring commuter sentiment and understanding what, specifically (beyond losing money) these commuters are worried about – and they have lots to worry about: food, childcare costs, staying healthy, as who can afford to get sick when living on less disposable income?

The concerns of today show us the business opportunities of tomorrow, and we’re happy to demonstrate this during a real-time demo tailored to your needs. Reach out!

Related posts:

How Social Media Listening Enables Emotional Connections With Consumers
Taking Customer Care Beyond What Competitors Offer


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