Can it only be 12 months ago that Eurostar was embroiled in a crisis with trains stuck in tunnels and thousands of passengers baying for blood?Perhaps the company plans on this being an annual event. Last month there were thousands of passengers waiting in enormous queues at London’s St Pancras. It seemed a serious case of déjà vu.
But if you looked a little closer, things had changed – if only incrementally. During its last crisis Eurostar staff were so inexperienced in the use of social media that the only Twitter handle they had available for customers to reach them was @littlebreak – part of its Little Break Big Difference marketing campaign. This time they had @Eurostar and @Eurostarcomms and they were actively using them and posting replies to questions – so things have moved on. The main problem this time seemed to be the lack of concrete information, but that’s not the only issue.
This time, they invited passengers with bookings to arrive an hour before their scheduled departure, but didn’t say that it was on a first-come first-served basis, which came as a nasty shock to many. It’s just that kind of information that can be disseminated quickly and effectively by social media.
But if you went on to any of the Heathrow, Gatwick and Eurostar Twitter feeds, there was valuable information, along with frustration and anger.
When it comes to a crisis, social media sets the pace, whether companies like it or not. Finally Eurostar seems to be getting the message, but this time it was too little too late. Perhaps it will be up to speed next time.
Jim PreenMedia consultant