Wiener Linien are on the right track
Up till now I have seen some interesting concepts of how airlines try to utilize mobile for faster check ins, boarding and mileage collections but only very little from the rest of the transportation industry. I never understood why airlines are leading the way? Is it because of more business travelers? Do they just have more money for innovation? Transportation is transportation and it shouldn’t matter if you board a plane, train or subway when it comes to constantly improving customer experience.
Wiener Linien (the public transport company of Vienna) just did a good step towards mobile integration. It’s not fully there yet but I’m already happy with what they have done so far. You can now register online, buy your tickets (also in advance) and the tickets get pushed on to your account on the Wiener Linien iPhone app. The system could have a better user experience but the main thing is that it works smooth. I’m curious to see the next version of the app which hopefully includes also the option to buy tickets within the app.
There is so much more potential for innovation in transportation:
Let’s see if the start of Westbahn (private railroad company) in winter will also bring some innovation and improvements in user experience to the Austrian railroad market (currently a monopoly for ÖBB). I personally still have my doubts but usually it’s the right moment for innovation when a new competitor enters the market. No matter what happens both railroad companies should take a look what Wiener Linien did and try to further improve it and make it relevant for the context of their service and their customers. Up till now the ÖBB didn’t care at all about the fact that you can buy your tickets online but still need to run around with a print out instead of a nice app that you have on your mobile which you have always with you.
Another thing that I also never understood was why public transport companies don’t offer a real customer loyalty programme, that is not just based on a pure financial benefit. A programme that connects the frequent travelers with the shops in the neighborhoods they pass by everyday. You don’t need a second miles&more programm but you should offer additional benefits to your regulars. Hopefully these companies will soon realize the potential that they have within their existing user base. Just imagine to put some learnings from behavioral economics on top of that and maybe you find yourself with a new business model, revenue stream and out of competition again.