In the recent years, Amtrak has been forced to undertake new marketing strategies due to declining sales. As faster and more cost effective ways of traveling have become more popular and cost effective, train travel has had some difficulty keeping up. However, traveling by train offers some unique opportunities and experiences that are not available with other modes of transportation. Amtrak is attempting to use these unique attributes to market its train that travels from New York City to New Orleans and back, the Crescent.
Amtrak has been marketing the Crescent by emphasizing the comfort that it offers as compared to other forms of transportation. The new marketing strategies of Amtrak compare the seats of the Crescent with the seats on an airplane and show that the seats on the Crescent more spacious as compared to the seats an airplane. This marketing strategy is also similar to the new “travel as you wish” campaign for Amtrak Cascades which emphasizes the comfort and luxuries of traveling by train.
Another marketing strategy that Amtrak has employed is by improving the quality of the meals that are served since the Crescent is also equipped with a dining car which serves full meals that are cooked fresh aboard the train. The menu on board the Crescent has a wide variety of choices to select from and the quality of the food is much better than typical airline food. In line with this marketing plan, Amtrak has also kept the prices of foods and beverages in its dining car and snack bar reasonable to provide the passenger with all the eating opportunities possible.
The marketing strategies for the Crescent that have been utilized by Amtrak also emphasize the fact that train travel is more convenient and enjoyable than any other mode of land transportation, especially for families. Unlike traveling by car or any other mode of land transportation, traveling by train allows passengers to sit back and enjoy the ride.
There is no more need to worry about taking a wrong turn or trying to navigate by using folded maps that are inaccurate or outdated or even finding a nice place to use the restroom. Amtrak capitalizes on this advantage by marketing its services to families with children by offering discounted rates for children traveling with adults. This makes train travel a great experience for the entire family because it also allows the children to wander around on board the train as opposed to being confined to the backseat of a car.
Boarding a train has also been made much easier by Amtrak to the extent that is has made this even easier than boarding an airplane. The passengers can avoid long lines and are allowed to keep most of their luggage within easy access of their seat. This is even better than airplanes which only allow hand carried items of limited dimensions to be stored on board with the passenger and cause a certain level of inconvenience for the passenger, not only during boarding but also upon arrival and waiting at the luggage claim area.
Another inconvenience caused by traveling by airplane which Amtrak has used to its advantage it by allowing the use of cellular phones throughout the duration of the train ride. This advantage appeals to those who have important business to conduct but still prefer to travel comfortably. The cellular phone use allows businessmen and bankers to be on top of their work while enjoying the many fine facilities and comforts that the Crescent can provide.
The Crescent is sometimes equipped with an observation car that allows travelers to climb up to a second level and enjoy a panoramic perspective of their surroundings through its large windows, which unlike in an airplane, allows the train travelers to enjoy much of the scenery as they travel. This is another advantage that the Crescent has over the modes of transportation because it allows the passenger to literally see life as it passes buy and to experience and behold first hand the breathtaking beauty of America.
While there are those who criticize train travel by saying that there are to many stops along the way, the train can still sometimes be a faster option than traveling by car because of the fact that passengers can sleep on a real bed while they travel throughout the night or even during the day thus eliminating the rest stops that accompany traveling by car.
The Crescent also offers such comfortable beds that even the passengers sleeping in the coach section of the train have a much more restful and revitalizing rest experience as compared to attempting to sleep in the cramp and uncomfortable seats on an airplane. Not only does the Crescent allow passengers to be well rested for their arrival at their destination it also makes the travel time much shorter as opposed to traveling by car or by bus.
Another convenient aspect of the Crescent, which Amtrak has capitalized on in its marketing strategies, is the fact that most train stations are located right in the middle of downtown business districts. This is the reason why Amtrak has been marketing train travel as a viable alternative aggressively to business travelers. Instead of having to go through the hassle of claiming baggage in an airport, finding a taxi, and then finally arriving at your destination, business travelers can walk or take a short subway ride to train station or from the train station to their intended destination.
This saves a great deal of time and also allows these weary businessmen to maximize their work days while ensuring that they are not too stressed out or harassed as they normally would through other modes of transportation. The fact that the Crescent also has comfortable beds and even allow the use of cellular phones provides the businessman with more opportunities to work yet at the same time not feel too harassed or troubled by the time that he arrives at this final destination.
Trains are also a good option for business travelers because they are less susceptible to weather delays thus offer greater reliability. These advantages of trains are the key points in the marketing strategies of Amtrak with respect to its Crescent Line and are the main draws for businessmen.
The 9/11 attacks have also increased the volume of passengers on the Crescent Line of Amtrak as more and more Americans realize just how dependent the nation has become on a single mode of transportation which has proven vulnerable to attacks and tragedies. The tragedy has shown that passenger rail is vital and Amtrak greatly anticipates that more and more Americans will take to traveling by train instead of by airplanes because of this incident. The spotless record of train travel with regard to hijacking has been a great influence on many American’s decisions to travel by train instead and Amtrak has capitalized on this by giving worried travelers the security option of traveling by train.
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina may have greatly disrupted the Crescent’s route from New York to New Orleans but it also created a unique marketing opportunity for Amtrak. Amtrak used this to its advantage and worked diligently to restore train service to the New Orleans area via the Crescent within a month and a half of the aftermath caused by the hurricane and by doing so became one of the first companies to do so.
Many of the railroad tracks leading to the city were severely damaged in the storm. A press released announced the restoration of train service to the city and Amtrak officials stated that they hoped that having the city accessible by train once again would aid the city in its effort to start rebuilding. The situation allowed Amtrak to show the people of New Orleans that Amtrak values their city and looks forward to things returning to a more normal pace in the area.
Another key step in this was in November 2005, when Amtrak began offering discounted rates to passengers traveling to New Orleans. Travelers received a twenty percent discount on fares to New Orleans. Amtrak said they hoped that by making it more affordable, more tourists would be able to travel to New Orleans, boosting not only their sales, but the economy of the city. The discount was also offered to assist aid workers who traveled to the city.
Amtrak has also vied for the business of people traveling on cruises out of New Orleans. Carnival and Amtrak partnered to offer twenty five percent discounts to passengers traveling on the Crescent to reach the port of New Orleans to depart on their cruise. The two companies hope that this is an incentive for tourists to travel to New Orleans thus helping the city recover faster. Amtrak was able to capitalize on this situation by showing that they are more than just a company that cares for the welfare of its passengers but also a company that cares for the welfare of America.
These key advantages of traveling by train are also the key marketing strategies of Amtrak in increasing the volume of passengers on its Crescent Line. The relative comfort, reliability, luxury, convenience and security which the Crescent provides is incentive enough for any businessmen or any traveler for that matter to prefer traveling by train over the modes of transportation throughout America.
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