When technology isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Technology is supposed to make our lives better, easier, and less stressful. In a lot of ways it does. In other ways, the increased demand for technology leaves us frustrated, causing more stress when things don’t work and lower levels of customer service. Like when you need internet, but there is no feasible way to connect internet to a moving train. What’s a railroad supposed to do for retail on the train?

Sure, doing it old school with a register and cash only is an acceptable solutions. Or is it? Do you have a POS system in your retail store and would using a register cause more work on the back end? How are you tracking inventory with your register? Could you increase sales if you start taking credit cards on the train?

Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention. DTS continuously strives to find solutions to problems railroads face. In this situation, DTS has already created a dependable solution that works well in unifying sales, inventory, and reporting across the whole railroads retail and concessions system. The POS solutions allows for credit card sales on the train, even without internet. As well as the availability to create tabs and collect credit card tips.

To learn more about the remote POS solution or other products DTS offers, email us at sales@dynamicticketsolutions.com or call us a 1-856-779-0230.

Do you have challenges that you don’t have a solution to just yet? Why not send us your issue to see if we have a solution or can create a solution for you? We always love a challenge! sales@dynamicticketsolutions.com

To Assign, or not to Assign

Customer satisfaction is at the top of the list for any company looking to promote customer loyalty, word of mouth, and increased revenue, for railroads, that includes how the passenger is seated. There are many different methods used by different railroads for different types of excursions. And there are many different customer preferences as well.Customer satisfaction is at the top of the list for any company looking to promote customer loyalty, word of mouth, and increased revenue, for railroads, that includes how the passenger is seated. There are many different methods used by different railroads for different types of excursions. And there are many different customer preferences as well.

Open Seating – This allows a first-come, first-serve option. Customers know they need to arrive early to get the seats they want. However, the wrangling of the customers is often the outcome, as the instinct is to spread out, reducing the number of seats together for larger families.

Seating by Car – This is similar to open seating, but is the first step to controlling the masses.

Assigned Seating by the Railroad – Assigned seating by the railroad allows complete control over where the passenger sits. This includes seating groups, families with children, allowing courtesy seating on light trains, or assigning all seats on busy days. Customers don’t have to fight for their seats, yet they also have very little control over where they sit, such as the known “good” side of the train.

Assigned Seating by the Guest – This assigned seating method allows the guest to pick their seats at the time of booking. If they aren’t happy with the seats available that day, they can choose a different day to find their perfect seats. Putting the choice in the guest’s hands allows for the optimum customer experience except when there is equipment changes or unforeseen seating issues.

There is no right or wrong way to handle seating, as every railroad is different and every excursion has its own needs. What is essential is to have a reservations system that can handle your seating needs, one that is adaptable to your current and future needs.

If you feel like you are missing the tools needed to offer the best customer service for seating at your railroad, contact us, and we can help! sales@dynamicticketsolutions.com

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law, “if anything can go wrong, it will”  is a worldview held by many.  Others may prefer to view the world through a cautious but slightly more positive “measure twice, cut once” lens.  Either way, stuff happens. 

So when something happens and the railroad is unable to deliver as promised, how do you respond to a disappointed guest?

Refund their money.

Well sure, you can always give money back.  In some cases that may be the only option, but does a refund fully heal the slight?   The Guest got their money back.  What are they likely to say to their friends or post on social media about their disappointing experience?  “This lousy thing happened.  They didn’t deliver on their promise.  Yeah, at LEAST they gave me my money back.”  Refunding their money is the LEAST.  So how can the railroad do MORE?

How can the railroad leave the Guest feeling they got MORE?

Issue a Refund AND…

  1. an Offer Code for a discount on a future excursion – you have just incentivized them to return to the railroad and buy a ticket(s) for a future excursion
  • a Voucher or Coupon for a Free Ice Cream or Fountain Drink – sweet treats are always appreciated
  • a Free parking pass

Think creatively!  What do you have to offer that is relatively Low Cost to the railroad AND potentially High Value to the Guest?    How can you encourage the Guest to return and ride another day when everything goes right and you can deliver on the promise of a railroad experience to remember?

Haircut?

Daily Deal offers (eg. Groupon, Living Social) can be used effectively to create interest and attract new customers. 

If the deals increase ridership, reducing excess capacity, the revenue generated by the deal improves the bottom line.  Some discounted Customers are one and done.  They enjoyed their discount and they won’t be back. Other Customers will be the type that tried something new because of the offer and liked it enough to refer their friends or return themselves. So how can you leverage a daily deal?  Control your cost of sale and maximize your potential revenue.

Control your cost of sale.

Generate your own coupon codes and upload them.  In this way, you will know exactly how many codes are being offered.

Make it easy for your customers to SELF-redeem their coupons via a custom online-portal.  There are two reasons for this.  1) Lower your admin cost by directing coupon holders to redeem and place their order online.  2) During the ticket purchase process, when a customer is presented with an “enter code” option and they don’t have a code, what’s their next step?  Do they complete their transaction or do they leave your site and go searching for a discount code?  A custom online portal for coupon redemption neatly handles both 1 and 2.  Coupon holders can easily redeem their offer online and Guests without coupons can also complete their transaction. No distractions!  

Maximize your potential revenue.

You are taking “a haircut” on the ticket price.  Make up the lost revenue by offering the guest something else.  Maybe an upsell item they can add to their shopping cart.  It could be a snack, a souvenir, preferred parking or an activity eg. gold panning, mine tour. 

As always, follow-up after the sale is essential.  Thank them for riding. Ask for their recommendation or referrals.  Invite them to return for the next special (full price) event. 

Get ‘em while they’re HOT!

Many tourist railroads rely on Volunteers to keep the wheels turning.  We know from our experience working with railroads that many Volunteers were Guests first.  It may have been a Santa Train, or a Charter (a bridal shower or bachelor party) or maybe, Father’s Day.  Somehow, they rode the train, had fun, and decided to get involved.  

So how do you engage your Guests and invite them to Volunteer?   

Broadcast the invitation to volunteer on all channels.   

Post clear and easy to find information on your website.  Detail the types of skills needed and tasks to be done.  Photos of current Volunteers “at work” doing fun stuff will go a long way.

Post photos and video of Volunteers at work or enjoying the annual banquet or awards ceremony on your social media.  With permission, tag the Volunteers pictured so their friends can see what they are up to – they may want to join in too.

Depending on your business rules, eg. you may require volunteers to join as members first, or take a course for certification, you can invite Volunteers to register online either during the ticket purchase process or through a link on your website.  An automatically generated “post-excursion email” may include information on volunteering. The Guest can provide their contact information on a sign up form and indicate areas of skill or interest.  That’s a “hot lead”.  Follow up is key to successful recruitment. An email notification automatically sent to your Volunteer Coordinator when a prospective volunteer submits the interest form prompts them to follow up and take the next step with the prospect. That may be a phone call, another email inviting them to a workday, or registering them for a required training.

Day-old donuts?  No thanks!  Better to get ‘em while they’re HOT!

The Art of the Upsell

Do you want fries with that?

It’s the classic upsell offer.

Translation: would you like something EXTRA?

Remember when they used to ask “SuperSize???” at the McDonald’s drive-thru window? Another classic upsell.

Translation: would you like MORE?

From the consumer, or guest, side of the transaction, the offer of something More or Extra may be received in a number of ways, positive or negative.

Positive Negative
YES! love Fries NO! hate fries
YES, forgot to order Fries NO! cutting calories
YES, hungry NO! don’t want to spend any more $
YES, good deal

From the vendor side of the transaction, the Upsell offer may accomplish several things, mostly positive.

Positive

— Increase the sales value of the transaction

— Enhance the guest experience, increasing the perceived value to the guest

— Inventory management – presells provide valuable information on what items eg. meals, snacks, collectibles will be needed on hand.

Negative

— Some Guests may be annoyed by the upsell offer but the chances of that are small – as long as you don’t overdo it and hit them with multiple offers at once, adding unnecessary friction to the checkout process.

Crafted thoughtfully, Upsell Offers can enrich both sides of the equation by increasing Sales Revenue and adding value to the Guest Experience.

Do you know your ABCs?

Always Be Closing sounds like a high-pressure sales tactic. It brings to mind the Alec Baldwin character in the 1992 film, Glengarry Glen Ross, berating his sales team ”Coffee is for Closers”. But A-B-C is really just a reminder to ask for the order. And once the order is in hand, to invite the buyer to take the next step.

P0E2BW Original Film Title: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. English Title: GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Film Director: JAMES FOLEY. Year: 1992. Stars: ALEC BALDWIN.

Online, asking for the order can be as simple as placing a “BUY NOW” button where the user can easily find it and navigate through to check out. What’s next?

The next step might be an offer to add something to the shopping cart on check out. Many retailers (DSW, TJMaxx) load the checkout aisle with last minute impulse items. Retailers will collect an email, offer a credit card or a frequent shopper club.

An offer at check out can be an “Extra” or a “Promise”. Extra = purchase an additional something. Promise = agree to do something

On the railroad, an Extra, or “UpSell” could be something like a wine glass or a T-shirt. ice cream, chocolates, a box lunch. Or, an experience: eg. a mine tour, museum pass, zip-line. Even a convenience or privilege such as pre-paid parking, preferred waiting area access. A “Promise” is an agreement to do something. For example: Subscribe, Join, Volunteer, Donate. Each of these actions can be the initial step in building a longer-term relationship.

Extras and Promises can increase the transaction value/gross sales revenue. Promises kept extend the relationship with the buyer into the future where you can again ask for the order.

Effort and expense were invested into selling the first ticket, perhaps through paid advertising, social media posts, emails, brochures, telephone calls. Increase your return on investment by knowing your A-B-C’s.

What's Next


They came. They rode. What’s next?

There are many possible outcomes or next steps for Guests who have ridden your train.

Will they

➢ Become a Member?
➢ Refer their friends or post a positive review online?
➢ Sign up to Volunteer
➢ Purchase tickets for an upcoming excursion
➢ Make a Donation

Follow up with your Guests and encourage them to take a next step. A Post-Excursion email can be sent automatically to Guests one or more days after their train ride. “Thanks for riding with us” is a great place to start. Follow with “The Ask”. An invitation to become a Member, or to Volunteer, complete a survey, leave a review on TripAdvisor, Like your Facebook page, etc. Close with “The Offer”. “Come ride with us again soon” with an Offer Code for a discount on the next Special Event on your Excursion Calendar. Example: follow-up Santa Trains with Valentines or Easter Bunny. Prefer not to discount Special Events? No problem, offer something else as an incentive. A complimentary rose for Valentines. A chocolate bunny for Easter.

Every Guest interaction is an occasion to take the next step in building valuable relationships; Members, Volunteers, families who return year after year. DTS™ provides tools to cultivate and strengthen relationships. Your move.

Santa Claus is comin’ to town


Trains are sold out, volunteers are scheduled, candy canes, cocoa, and cookies are stocked. Your team is ready to create some magic and make some Holiday wishes come true. You are READY! But what about your Guests, are they prepared? Do they know what to expect? Do they know what is expected of them?

Holidays can be a stressful time. So much to do, gifts to wrap, decorations to hang, cookies to bake. How can you help alleviate some of that stress? Eliminate surprises! Make sure your Guests know everything they need to know in order to have a great experience riding your train.

A pre-excursion email can be sent automatically to Guests one or more days in advance of their excursion. With a special event train, such as Santa, tickets may have been purchased well in advance, sometimes months in advance. Receiving a “Looking forward to your visit,” email a few days before the event can serve as a pleasant reminder. “Right! That’s THIS weekend!”

The message can also include valuable information on what Guests can expect.
Examples:
• What to wear…PJ’s!
• What to bring…Smiles!
• Any last minute travel directions, eg. road construction updates, detours
• How long is the ride?
• When to arrive…Early!
• Where to park…Santas’ helpers will direct you
• Check-in procedure…Nice? Here, Naughty? There
• Bathroom info…Depot? On the Train?

When your Guests are prepared and “know the drill” there will be less stress for everyone including your staff and volunteers. Happy Guests will be back!