Winning New Customers 2008

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This award is designed to recognise radical initiatives which increase patronage and demonstrably attract car users to leave their car at home and use the bus. We are particularly looking for schemes that aim to achieve modal shift and the category is much broader than the normal route marketing activity which the ‘Bus Marketing Campaign’ Award is aimed at. The winning entry will be the scheme which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributed to improved perception of the bus product in the eyes of non-users. 

The Winners: Norfolk Green

Winning New Customers

One of Norfolk Green's buses picks up passengersAs King’s Lynn and its surrounding area develops, it would be expected that car use will grow too. But, by acting as a retailer, Norfolk Green is attracting more additional fare-paying passengers than extra concessionary pass holders. As town centre footfall has risen, car park usage is static, and this suggests strongly that motorists are increasingly using the bus.

The judges were impressed with Norfolk Green’s attention to the wider picture, such as monitoring car park statistics. This shows it has an excellent understanding of the market and is putting that into the context of developing local bus services that people want to use and are also creatively publicised. The judges were also impressed with the scale of investment relative to the company’s financial resources and level of risk, and the fact that Norfolk Green understood how pricing policies for bus services can be used to attract new customers.

This a model for use in other towns of similar size, which bus operators too often view as markets lost to the car. 

Runners Up: Nottingham City Transport

Easyrider and Citycard, The Smart Way to Travel

NCT's attractive City Centre shop which promotes smartcard travelEasyrider and Citycard help to remove obstacles and fears that traditional non-bus users have about using buses and paying for travel. A range of smartcards is available, catering for people who use buses in many different ways.

Nottingham City Council has developed excellent marketing and promotion, and won new customers. Annual smartcard patronage is up from 12.2 to 26 million, and there is strong evidence of modal shift. Smartcards are being now being used for 60% of bus trips on Nottingham City Transport services.

While the scheme has been around for some time, the judges were impressed with the ongoing efforts to win new customers, and the strong involvement with employers where travel plans are integrated with use of the card. Many talk about such comprehensive schemes - but Nottingham is one of very few to have done it.

Highly Commended:

Reading Transport: Reading Buses' Premier Route Network

A Reading bus in one of the attractive Premier Routes liveries One of the challenges of attracting non-bus users is how to be visibly different while continuing to be unchanged in the eyes of (and to meet the expectations of) existing bus users. Reading Buses achieved this by fusing two marketing techniques of route and core network branding to form its Premier Route Network, consisting of individually branded routes with a livery that links the constituent parts.

With substantial investment and creative marketing, fare paying passengers are up 3.4% year-on-year and, in the last six months, passenger volumes are 5% higher. In particular, the bus share of modal split in the town centre in what is a very prosperous area generally has grown from 20% to 22%.

Translink: Cross Border Coach Service

A coach on the Belfast-Dublin serviceTranslink operates bus services to Dublin Airport and Dublin City Centre. This submission details a strategic programme of product innovation and marketing, resulting in demonstrable and sustainable passenger growth. Results show that the innovative approach to product development succeeded in achieving the objective of shifting public opinion towards bus travel and growing the cross border coach market as a whole.

West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro): The West Midlands Bus Partnership

A bus in service in the West MidlandsTo combat declining bus use in the West Midlands, Centro forged groundbreaking partnerships with the region's largest bus operator, National Express West Midlands and also with Stagecoach.  Centro and National Express West Midlands were keen to demonstrate that with the closer partnership working a 10%  patronage increase in passenger usage could be achieved within 12 months.




Who could be nominated?

This category was open to operators, local authorities, partnerships or other organisations participating in the securing, marketing or promotion of registered local bus services.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from customers, local authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination was also acceptable.  

The Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges were looking for successful innovative promotional ideas which got the message about bus services over to the target market by advertising, PR activity or sales promotion schemes.  A successful nomination for this award needed to demonstrate:

  • development of an original or novel idea, which broke new ground in promoting the bus
  • the extent to which the initiative:
    • informs potential customers
    • stimulates interest in, or desire for, the product
    • provides customers with access to the product
    • the objectives achieved or the lessons learned

Entrants needed to:

  • Supply statistical evidence showing the results of the initiative in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators and modal shift
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe any future plans for further development
  • Include any relevant supporting material.

The inclusion of statistical evidence, particularly of modal shift achieved, was essential.


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