What keeps us moving?
Thinking public transport from the market's perspective: Active marketing characterises our portfolio. Our projects comprise any marketing disciplines which result in one thematic priority: Public transport marketing.
Find out more about our portfolio:
This is evolutionary: From traditional fares to pricing and demand management
Pricing policy is a controversial issue in short-distance public transport: In general, the politically correct desire for a higher market share in public transport through affordable fares collides with the request to engage passengers in sharing the costs.
Consulting with regard to fares and price-performance ratios is one of the most important areas of responsibilities at Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung. For this purpose we use various analysis tools: From the analysis of sales data to demand simulation to demanding market research in order to evaluate the willingness to pay, for instance. For fare benchmarks we bank on our database, which includes any ticketing products from single tickets to key account tickets that have been available in local public transport throughout all German-speaking countries during the past ten years.
We pay attention to diversity of methods and thus consequently support our recommendations. Our offensive pricing policy strategies have proven many times that not only prices but also sales quantities can be influenced in a positive way. Our team has the ambition to encourage decision-makers of companies and politics in implementing bold solutions – and to improve the market actively.
Targeting temporary partners: Fares for regular customers
Revenues from subscriptions are a save income. We have not only proven empirically that the value of a relation to regular customers is advantageous and may add up to a five-digit amount. We also create subscription fares which transform the effects of customer locality for transport companies into real euros.
The price gap between season tickets paid cash and subscribers' tickets is just the most obvious lever: From the way of discounting to price differentiation (e.g. basic vs. premium subscription) to attractive additional services - there are many ways of creating attractive offers.
Fare strategies for occasional users: Would you like to benefit from additional services?
There is hardly anyone who has never gone by bus before. However, do people who rarely take the bus always have to buy a ticket for a single ride?
Fare strategies for occasional customers focus on two pillars: Convenience and retention incentives. Even occasional customers can be retained: With a return ticket on the same day or with the same journey a week later. Offering day tickets, multiple-trip tickets or mini flat rates, there are various fare options – but how to combine them?
Together with your company, Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung develops a coherent fare strategy for occasional customers, focusing on one or two key products which are in the main focus of communication, and under appropriate conditions which always help to sell a little more.
Innovative e-fares create exceptional incentives
Electronic ticketing is a future topic but also associated with huge efforts, which hardly pay off through decreased marketing costs. Fortunately, electronic ticketing paves the way for unexpected opportunities. If each ride is charged individually, incentives can be created much more precisely. There are many possibilities from discounts on rides during off-peak periods to best prices on a daily or monthly basis.
What is a real electronic fare? Copying the function of a simple paper ticket to a chip card? A discount campaign to promote the system? Or tangles of limited flat rates, minimum budgets, minimum turnover and cost airbags as we know them from the mobile communications sector?
Convenience is a crucial factor in the world of electronics. Nevertheless, it is necessary to break habits. Initial examples of innovations, which would have been impossible with paper-based tickets, have been put into practice also with our assistance. We would be pleased to advise you on your way to the world of electronic ticketing.
"Sales processing" - Shaping sales actively
Sales is much more than exchanging money for tickets as several case studies show in an impressive way. Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung supports its clients in finding the right tools to gain higher revenues.
We evaluate the importance of your distribution channels in detail. How can the quality of customer centres be improved in order to increase the turnover of subscriptions? Which role does the staff play in selling tickets actively to occasional users? How can external resellers contribute to attracting new passengers? How does Key Account Management attract the attention of companies and organisations? Which role will ticket machines play in future if an electronic ticketing system is being introduced?
We will jointly develop a successful sales strategy based on a comprehensive distribution cost analysis as well as local high-quality tests of usability. As a result, you will receive suggestions for necessary actions which will be effective on any level and on a permanent basis.
Customer loyalty management – magic formula for long-term revenues
If applied properly, customer loyalty management is an effective tool in three different ways. First, long-term customer loyalty is achieved. Second, they use additional services more frequently and thus increase the market penetration. This is the basis for stable revenues.
Our consulting aims at recommending you measures and processes to extend customer loyalty – preferably to the maximum exploitation of the individual customer value. This includes:
- Active subscription advice: How can customers with monthly passes be convinced to upgrade to subscriptions?
- Individual customer care: How to respond preemptively to potential reasons for termination?
- Customer recovery: Which kind of termination requires which countermeasures?
Professional qualification of sales staff = rising turnover
As you can see from relevant statistics on complaints, the key factor for improved service quality is the staff. We assist you in the further education of your sales and service staff. Together with supervisors and employees from operational business we develop service standards for sales staff, create trainings and coaching, accompany their implementation and evaluate the result.
Well-trained sales staff does not only lead to improved advisory services and more efficient negotiations, but it likely leads to a significant increase in the sale of season tickets. We coach drivers how to integrate active addressing of customers in their everyday work – while the customer feels welcomed and understood.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung launches long-term processes: Being aware of the strengths of employees and supervisors is encouraged, while employees are continuously being supported according to the requirements.
Electronic ticketing: Smartphones instead of change, validators instead of ticket machines
Everybody is talking about innovative e-ticketing systems. It took several decades to develop the system which in the meantime turned into a mass application. Major hopes have been invested in convenience and comfort, which could lead to higher demand. How do customers evaluate the system – e.g. if a check-out is installed as an additional step for which additional costs arise if the customer forgets to use it.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung is more than a technical consulting agency: We also create concept studies for electronic ticketing systems, taking the usability of user interfaces and cost effectiveness into account. We guarantee that these costs are not just added to conventional distribution channels. Our experience also involves the related topic of electronic fares.
Product development and processes
Quality management: Listening to the customer in order to improve quality
Quality is not only fulfilling performance and service features. Excellent service implies being quick, flexible and in dialogue with the customer. When it comes to the creation of quality management systems, we pay attention to the quality understanding from the customer's perspective.
Quality management should use customer feedback as an important source of information in order to improve services where it is necessary, and always including the staff. Considering business and quality objectives, we prepare appropriate controlling methods. In addition to the DIN EN 13816 tool, we also apply approaches which help solving quality problems quickly and efficiently with minimum effort and in intense dialogue with all parties involved.
Customer guarantees and service standards: Promised is promised
Market research shows that certain subservices of public transport are often perceived worse than they really are. Especially non-clients and casual customers avoid using public transport more frequently due to negative cases.
Implementing various customer guarantees, you will be able to improve the general perception of punctuality and reliability. Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung particularly aims at using customer guarantees as a communication tool, but also to measure and control quality. Customer guarantees allow to improve established processes and grant employees more responsibility. On client side, differentiated guarantees will boost the incentive to upgrade to superior tickets and thus improve the customer relationship.
Even beyond "serious"customer guarantees we support arranging and fixing service standards: Intragroup between management level and driving or sales staff, and company-wide through advanced quality systems between public transport authorities and transportation companies.
Ideal subscription process: Loyal customers don’t have to be expensive
In terms of customer loyalty, subscriptions are the ideal premium product for frequent users. Unlike tickets paid cash, subscriptions require a number of specific background processes and their use and efficiency should be reviewed on a regular basis. By analysing process costs, Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung finds solutions for the following questions:
- Where do costs incur today?
- Which effort does an additional subscriber induce?
- How do costs develop when processes change?
In addition to the costs per customer and year (cross-sectional analysis), particularly the customer’s life-cycle costs are essential (longitudinal analysis). Mainly in terms of customer loyalty measures it should be analysed whether their life cycle extending effect justifies the costs or not.
Customer Relationship Management: Hey people out there!
So far, public transport companies usually have little knowledge about their customers – as most of them remain anonymous. An efficient CRM system opens up unexpected opportunities of sales approach, be it measures of customer loyalty management, of up-selling or cross-selling, or of personalised passenger information.
The focus of previous efforts was merging different data sources to one system. This turns out to be very complex, and the original objective is no longer met. At the same time, there are so many things to do beyond the technical implementation: Guiding passengers pro-actively during changes in their life (e.g. career entry, parental leave, retirement), abolition of cancellation requirements for reduced tickets, or the direct communication with customers using so-called job tickets. Today, about 70 % of the customer value potential is not being exploited even with regular customers.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung supports you in creating and implementing CRM measures. Depending on your focus, we integrate these approaches in the general customer service methods.
Communication and information
Targeted communication, better perception
Successful communication attracts attention for the service offered. This requires a precise communication strategy: Which message is to be used for which service? On which media and which level of presence should we focus? Which target groups should be reached? Would it be an advantage to set the focus on only few media? Or would it be better to use any multimedia-based opportunities?
We develop communication strategies on the basis of an in-depth market analysis. The result of our work is qualified briefings which advertising agencies and designers can use as a basis for their work for many years.
Concise branding policy, clear user interface
Like in many other industries, branding in public transport is not an end in itself. Its importance at the passenger market mainly originates from emotional experiences: Which identity is appropriate on the market? Which labels and attributes do exist? How are brands developed and maintained ? Don't successful tickets and famous sales facilities belong to "brand-name products" which should be maintained or reissued?
Branding policy in low-involvement services such as public transport is more than designing logos and flyers. An inviting design of the entire user interface is crucial. In addition to visual aesthetics and recognisability, usability is very important: How can established terms, colour systems or sales processes be integrated in an improved user interface without any losses?
We would be pleased to support you in these decision making and implementation processes. We take the needs of all participants seriously, without weakening the requirements of a corporate claim. A clear distribution of labour between transport association and transport companies provides sufficient flexibility for the identity of each player.
Passenger information: Simply useful!
Public transport is a complex service. The customer needs to buy the right ticket in advance to take the right vehicle at the right time and the right place. In contrast to going by car, taking the bus or the train limits the active control experienced subjectively, and thus the passengers’ well-being.
In order to provide information systematically, we have to consider that in terms of public transport information there are two sides of the same coin. The actual meaning on the one hand ("This way."), less autonomy experienced on the other hand ("Enter the vehicle only at the drivers’ door."). Information needs to prevent both the feeling of uncertainty and the feeling of being at somebody's mercy. At the same time, the demand for passenger information is constantly rising, since many other service industries offer increasingly sophisticated user information.
The perfect mix of information media is important. Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung assists you in adjusting the media consequently according to the needs of customers. We create information strategies which work according to the principle of avoiding information: The best information is the one which is not required. We prepare information that is really necessary according to distinct criteria: quickly, comprehensibly, and clearly.
Key Account Management: Tickets, sales and communication channel
Just "low-cost product" or also important sales channel? Jointly with our clients we develop a clear strategy to actively join the corporate customer market. The first step in Key Account Management is a potential assessment: Which and how many companies should be directly addressed? Is the current market exploitation satisfactory?
This way, we successfully assisted numerous clients to change from a cost-oriented to an incentive-based corporate customer support. Frequently, new fare schemes for key account customers were used, which ensure more flexibility in contract design. Our key principle is that the fare scheme should attract new customers without cannibalisation of existing clients.
The key account manager’s qualification is a decisive factor. Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung provides specific in-house support, implements trainings for beginners and advanced clients, and organises an annual event for the key account managers of our clients to share experiences.
Bon voyage: Growth potentials in leisure traffic and tourism transport
Leisure traffic offers a huge range of opportunities for public transport, also due to the demographic development. However, demand in leisure traffic is characterised by a lower willingness to pay than for other purposes. In addition, leisure trends and destinations are not always compatible with public transport.
The integration of public transport in touristic offers should be improved in order to gain a higher share of the leisure budget. We conduct potential analyses and identify target groups and growth opportunities. In order to guarantee higher revenues and passenger numbers, we distinguish between the willingness to pay of local people and tourists. In terms of the pricing policy, we consider both price volume strategies (e.g. for pay-as-you-go-based guest passes) and skimming strategies – a high fare for the first use with a strong incentive for future rides.
In terms of product marketing, we ensure a clear division of labour among the participants: Who is responsible for market development? Which cooperation partners are required to achieve marketing synergies? And we consider the special requirements of communication and sales of public transport in leisure traffic.
Students and young people: More than forced customers
Among younger fellow citizens the "mom-and-dad taxi" is more important than buses and trains. However, this is not a perfect situation for safety and environmental reasons. At the same time, the reimbursement for way-to-school expenses is posing problems in many places, which could be a reason for a new regulation.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung has shown how market shares in the young people segment can be significantly increased by means of price volume strategies. Particularly in urban areas where a large number of students are not authorised to use public transport for free, their willingness to pay is hardly developed by conventional monthly student passes. Students who were authorised to use public transport for free would rather accept to pay an own share if proper value added services were offered.
We recommend striking new paths in the sales and communications department, in order to attract the regular customers of tomorrow. Online platforms offer as centre of these activities, however, promotions and posters will remain an important marketing tool.
Senior citizens: Third teeth, second spring, first-class customers
The times of elderly citizens without a driver’s license who are forced to take the bus are over. Retirement is still one of the most common reasons for the cancellation of subscriptions. So how to attract this target group in particular, which offers should be used?
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung develops individual communication concepts for senior citizens who want to be taken seriously. We design a convincing offer and consistent marketing campaigns. Depending on the existing market share, a price volume strategy with extensive flat rate tickets could lead to additional revenues, our case study has shown. We have also made positive experiences with small-scale regional offers.
Last but not least we examine your service quality from the seniors’ perspective: Accessibility, intuitively operated user interfaces, and a safe and clean atmosphere are quality requirements, from which all customers will benefit!
Multimodal offers: Car and bike sharing meets public transport
A trend is born: Car sharing and bike rentals are dominating the discussion about new urban mobility. Empirical analysis shows that car sharing has caused a decline in private cars, whose former users could become loyal public transport customers. As a result, everybody is talking about multimodal cooperation, there are numerous subsidies for additional e-mobile offers, and public transport companies try to meet these new requirements.
But what is the real business model for public transport? The rather marginal number of passengers collected at many places shows that the golden road to a widely accepted mobility network has not yet been found. Both, municipalities as supporters of an environmentally-friendly mobility, and public transport, which should keep its role as an expert for local mobility services, are interested in serious cooperation offers.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung assists you in finding a multimodal business model which for all partners is more than just a showpiece – from sales cooperation to multimodal fares and the related settlement to a brand identity as mobility network. In this division, we do not only serve as consultants but also as research partners like in our "emove" research project in Aachen.
Long-distance transport: Professional market launch
For decades, long-distance public transport has been evolving in monopolistic structures. Meanwhile, both rail and road market allow open access, at least formally, even though many companies back off from the risks of a market entry.
Probst & Consorten Marketing-Beratung assists new and well-established long-distance transport service providers in choosing the right market development strategy, enhances the process of branding by providing creative ideas, and identifies existing demand potentials for subnetworks or routes. Another key factor is the calculation and implementation of suitable and commercially successful fares, which set incentives on the target markets.
Certainly, we do have a wide range of proven measures regarding the communication of our services and sales promotion. We are pleased to advise long-distance transport service companies on choosing appropriate options. We are specialists in all communication channels and event formats.