Promoting V/Line to new residents of regional Victoria

From time to time you will see a rail operator going out and chasing new passengers via a marketing campaign – but this campaign by V/Line to new residents of regional Victoria was quite clever.

Quad Sprinters led by 7012 on a down Geelong service at Wyndham Vale South

From the 2006-07 V/Line annual report:

Understanding customers even better

The experience of the past year indicates significant potential for sustained patronage growth as long as V/Line continues to develop and offer the services that people are seeking.

The challenge now is to attract new customers from three identified key future growth markets:

  • Families – Melbourne and regional
  • 50+ market – Melbourne and regional
  • Tree changers – regular commuters at key locations

Selling the benefits of rail

Movers’ Campaign – V/Line initiated a targeted direct mail program for the first time. Using Australia Post’s Mover Redirection data, people who relocated to an area served by a V/Line commuter service received a mail pack containing information on local train services and an offer of a free weekly ticket from their local station to Melbourne. At the end of June, more than 850 people had taken up the offer.

Unfortunately promoting further growth in the commuter market wasn’t such a good idea given a politically motivated 20% fare cut pushed patronage through the roof from 2007, so in 2007-08 V/Line changed tack:

In 2007–08, V/Line’s direct marketing program to people moving house in our catchment areas exceeded expectations, with 18 per cent of those contacted taking up the offer of a trial ticket. About 40 per cent of these have indicated they would use V/Line more regularly as a result of the promotion.

While the regular commuter market still accounts for the majority of our patronage growth, with most peak services operating at capacity, some off-peak and counter peak services have spare capacity that could be better utilised – particularly on weekends

The solution – promoting travel on off-peak services.

This year we trialled a new Family Traveller ticket to attract day-trippers to Melbourne or country Victoria. The trial was successful and demonstrated the potential for growing the family tourism market. The number of trips made in January 2008 was 20,000 higher than in the previous January.

As well as travel in the reverse direction.

Working with councils, tourism operators, the Department of Transport, Tourism Victoria and the Victorian Government, we launched a $1.3 million ‘See Things Differently’ advertising campaign to put V/Line – and regional Victoria – into the minds of Melburnians.

Key to its success is that the campaign promoted use of off-peak, outbound train services during quieter periods such as during the middle of the day, or on weekends – making more efficient use of existing services, crucial to our push to deliver a more sustainable operation.

Even a tram featured in the campaign!

B2.2127 advertising 'V/Line' on route 59 on Elizabeth Street at the Flinders Street terminus

Today V/Line continues to promote off-peak travel to families as well as leisure travel to country Victoria.

'Next stop, cosy country pubs' promotion for V/Line, at Southern Cross Station

 'Next stop, bushwalks and fresh air' promotion for V/Line, at a tram stop on William Street

But the explosion in commuter travel still continues to fill trains without any extra advertising.

Footnote

How does Australia Post’s Mover Redirection data work? From their website:

Target movers at the right time

Over 87% of movers use our Mail Redirection service, which means we know when and where they’re moving. A significant number opt in to receive marketing messages – and we can give you access to this receptive audience.

And the way to avoid these marketing messages – make sure you opt out of them when signing up to Australia Post’s mail redirection service!

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