This week I read an intriguing case study on Société de Transport de Montreal which outlined how Montreal’s public transport operator used a combination of convenience, personalised deals and fun to increase customer satisfaction and numbers on their buses and trains.
Their app uses GPS, user entered preferences and real-time travel information from transit cards to better understand the habits of their customers. This information should not be difficult for a functional public transport provider to attain; however, it is how they used this information that enabled them to go beyond simply updating them on service disruptions – which is primarily a negative communication.
Naturally, I turned to the Public Transport Victoria app for a comparison and, coming from a tourism background myself, I wondered if perhaps the World’s Most Liveable City is missing a golden opportunity to engage with visitors (and locals) via one of their most heavily utilised institutions. Surely a city as renowned for their creativity, spontaneity and sense of fun as Melbourne would not miss such a chance to create a very special visitor experience that would undoubtedly be shared with friends and family back home?
A quick peruse of the PTV app revealed an app that is functional, clear, and very focused on communicating disruptions… boring! Now, we all know that Metro has a hard time just running their core business, but perhaps a little creativity and thinking outside of the square would enable them to approach public transport from the perspective of the customer, rather than the operator, and shed a little light on this space. Perhaps Metro could place a little less emphasis on fare evasion and the risk of falling off the platform, and more energy could be put into communicating the benefits of public transport for a modern city? Perhaps this new approach to business could reward public transport users for doing their bit to relieve the pressure on Melbourne’s roads and, more importantly, the environment?
The PTV app is an opportunity for Melbourne’s train, tram and bus operators to positively engage with consumers and build a relationship with them that is less of an us-versus-them mentality, and more of a team approach to efficiently moving large numbers of commuters around the network. However, if we think beyond public transport the PTV app presents an opportunity for Visit Victoria or City of Melbourne to engage with visitors to the city, to create a memorable and special visitor experience that will set our city apart from other large global capitals.
Over 200,000 people use public transport in Melbourne every day, surely these are 200,000 potential brand ambassadors for Melbourne? Imagine if your Myki was linked to the PTV app, and it was an app in which you could opt-in for updates and deals, based on your personal interests. Imagine if, when you receive a message to say that your train has been delayed on a drizzly Melbourne eve, you also received a message suggesting the most suitable alternative route home? Or even better, a message encouraging you to make lemonade from your lemons – why not visit one of several cosy wine bars, late night shops or cheap eateries around the corner? Or make a night of it and check out the Melbourne International Film Festival or any one of the endless number of events that are taking place in the CBD on any given day? Because, at the end of the day, what is the point of living in the World’s Most Liveable City if you’re merely existing?