Network Rail: ‘Train stations will become the sales rooms of the future’

Across its 18 managed stations, Network Rail saw like-for-like sales rise by 3.67% between the start of April and the end of June. Its head of national business development Andrew Ledger says the increase proves that train stations are starting to become more appealing to brands than being on the high street.

In comparison, Britain’s high street saw average sales fall by 0.10% during the same period according to the British Retail Consortium.

Network Rail, which manages some of the UK’s busiest stations such as King’s Cross, London Waterloo and Manchester Piccadilly, recently awarded SpaceandPeople the contract for the exclusive rights to sell event and distribution space as it ramps up its advertising opportunities and work with brands.

Ledger says that by adding more experiential brand experiences at its stations, including virtual reality displays, Network Rail is not only boosting sales but also the morale of commuters.

He told Marketing Week: “We are focused on creating environments where our passengers can connect with engaging brands, who can in turn provide memorable experiences.

“One of the key observations I’ve made is that commuters are willing to spend more time and money at our stations if we get the marketing mix right. We’ve seen that at the British Airways stand we put at Victoria, which had long queues.”

Despite rising train fares and delays, of which Network Rail was fined £2m over train delays and cancellations in 2014-15, Ledger claims: “The experiences we’ve added, such as the Jurassic World exhibit at Waterloo at the start of June, are making commuters a lot happier and more settled on their journeys, we have proof of that. We can add extra value to the experience.”

St Panc. Jaguar_002
A Jaguar brand experience at London’s St Pancras station. It was created by SpaceandPeople.

The Jurassic World exhibit, organised by the previous exclusive rights holder JCDecaux, saw Waterloo station taken over with faux advertising for the fictional dinosaur theme park and a giant metal crate (pictured) surrounded by the film’s velociraptors.

Ledger credits the campaign for helping Waterloo Station’s retail space secure a 13% increase in like-for-like sales between April and the end of June, and a “record level of tweets”.

He says that through advertising and opening stores within Network Rail’s 18 stations, brands have access to accurate footfall data. Over the coming years, Network Rail is also planning to introduce Wi-Fi across all of its stations and heat mapping software so brands can better understand the habits and interactions of commuters.

“There are a billion people using our 18 stations and we are outperforming the high street on both retail and advertising,” adds Ledger.

“Train stations are becoming the sales rooms of the future and we are committed to working with brands who share our vision for unique interactive experiences.”

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