Rail Europe completed its switch to its new brand Voyages-sncf with the launch of a new trade website ahead of unveiling an e-learning platform for agents.
The operator aims to become seen as more of a general travel agent than purely a seller of train tickets and has been agreeing deals with key visitor attractions in France and beyond.
The UK trade strategy will see accounts supported by a dedicated trade sales team at its call centre in Kent and new bookable website offering information on rail travel throughout the European network.
Paul Lacey, Head of Trade Sales at Rail Europe Ltd said “Agents and operators are listening to their customers and becoming more willing to offer rail travel as an option for their clients.
“We’re seeing an increase in the number of rail inclusive packages that are featuring in major tour operator’s brochures, as consumers become more familiar with the benefits of travelling by train.
“With the transition to Voyages-sncf.eu, we are now better positioned to capitalise on our current strong sales position.”
There are plans to launch a B2B website dedicated to the Irish market, under the Voyages-sncf.eu banner.
This will further expand the distribution presence of the group which currently works with a network of over 15,000 authorised travel agencies and tour operating partners through Europe.
A recent survey carried out in advance of the rebranding show that although rail travel is still quite a niche market, one third of adults questioned would consider travelling by train on their next European holiday.
Almost half of those surveyed think that travelling by train to Europe would be more enjoyable than flying, while nearly two thirds of people questioned think that train travel would be a fun adventure. The same number agreed it is better for the environment.
When asked to state which of the four most commonly used forms of travel to Europe they would find most stressful, only 7% of British adults thought that the train would be the most stressful travel option for their holiday in Europe, compared to the 79% split across plane, car and coach travel.
Yves Tyrode, director-general of Voyages-sncf.com group, said: “The development of Voyages-sncf.com into a truly pan-European brand brings benefits to everyone involved.
“The integration of Rail Europe into the Voyages-sncf group, allows us to capitalise on their current strong position in the UK market.
“Their experience and knowledge of the requirements of the British travel trade, coupled with the group’s technological expertise will help us to communicate more effectively with British agents and tour operators, to make it easier for them to find the information they need and to book their European rail tickets quickly and simply for their clients.”