New technology and increased social media activity help popular Snowdonia attraction provide improved booking experience after lockdown eases
A popular Snowdonia attraction has adopted new technology to help manage bookings more efficiently and with a smoother experience for customers, after recognising that ‘book in advance’ is a trend that will be with us for the foreseeable future.
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (FFWHR), which operates historic and picturesque steam train journeys between Caernarfon, Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, faced the now all-too-familiar dilemma of how to welcome back customers safely after lockdown began to ease.
Previously, passengers had been able to hop on and off trains without booking a ticket in advance.
But since lockdown began to ease and attractions have been able to reopen, much more planning is needed – both by customers and by service providers.
FFWHR already had an online ticketing system but felt that customers found it ‘clunky’ to use. After doing some research they found FareHarbor, a service which incorporates bookings with Track and Trace and enables FFWHR to sell products like guidebooks and hampers, as well as enabling them to message customers en masse.
Throughout lockdown and beyond, FFWHR maintained a strong social media presence, helping to keep the attraction in visitors’ minds until it was safe to reopen. Using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the attraction kept followers engaged by sharing photos of the railway through the seasons and providing updates on behind-the-scenes developments.
And through its use of social media, FFWHR was also able to run a successful appeal for donations to help cover costs while the attraction was unable to operate during lockdown.
FFWHR also received some additional (and very welcome) publicity when the Railway was featured on BBC2’s “Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo” in May, and on ITV’s programme “Joanna Lumley’s Home Sweet Home” in February.
Osian Hughes, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway’s Marketing Lead, says of FareHarbor:
“We appreciated that if we wanted our customers to book their tickets in advance, we would need to provide a booking platform that made the process of pre-booking tickets efficient and simple. “Since we started officially using the ‘FareHarbor’ system in April, it has been very well received by customers, allowing them to pre-book tickets, hampers and guidebooks with ease. This is hugely important because at the end of Spring Bank Holiday week, 78% of our bookings were online.
“This new ticket system provides an array of benefits including a modern customer interface design, [and] the ability to issue pre-booked digital tickets along with the capability to sell unique experiences and packages.”
As well as providing a seamless customer journey for those wishing to check availability and book their tickets online before travelling, FareHarbour has proved to be very cost-efficient for the Railway. Charging on a simple commission basis, FareHarbour take a small percentage of each sale, meaning that the Railway only pays for the service while it’s being used – unlike other booking services, which charge monthly or annual fees.
To find out more about the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways or to book a journey, please visit https://www.festrail.co.uk