Insurance broker McCarron Coates has issued what it calls as “a wake-up call” to the coach industry via the publication of findings from consumer research that it commissioned. Those results suggest that the sector should alter its marketing strategies “and align itself with what the current customer wants if it is to survive,” the supplier claims.
In conclusions that will be seen as controversial, McCarron Coates adds that the poll of 1,500 adults has largely highlighted that the coach industry “is out of touch with potential customers in the UK.”
‘Hard reality’ presented by supplier’s report
The report, You’re Just Not Selling it to Me, presents what McCarron Coates describes as “the hard reality” of what British consumers think about the mode. The supplier adds that responses have shown “a shockingly low level of appreciation of the advantages of coach travel.” McCarron Coates believes that there is:
- A disconnect between the coach industry and the majority of its prospective customers
- An underlying feeling among many consumers that coach travel is irrelevant to them
- A lack of awareness of what coach travel can offer
- A current lack of desire to consider coach travel.
The Leeds firm adds that while it initially viewed the results as “deeply depressing” and considered suppressing them, further analysis has allowed it to suggest strategies that operators should adopt to tackle the issues highlighted. Those capture both the short term in capitalising on challenges being faced by other travel sectors, and a longer horizon.
Coach industry consumer research findings ‘need reaction’
In what will come as a surprise to many in the coach industry, the research has unearthed how only 14% of potential customers believe that the mode is a relaxing way to enjoy a UK holiday. The percentage is lower for European holidays. “Virtually nobody” recognised that coach travel is more environmentally friendly than other modes, the research found.
Because of the largely negative findings, McCarron Coates believes that the coach industry should make more use of individual operator websites to pitch to prospective customers and “create compelling reasons why the site visitors should travel on [its] coach” as part of “becoming better storytellers and conveyers of the benefits of coach travel.”
New communication options should be explored – such as explainer videos – to highlight how a trip works and what the comforts and benefits of coach travel are, the report continues. It also highlights aspects related to attracting younger people.
In their summing up, McCarron Coates Directors Ian McCarron and Paul Coates say they “did not realise just how out of love with coach travel the British public has fallen.”
They add: “There has to be a reaction to this, and a big one. The time to fight back is now, not in a couple of years when it is too late. Radical change in marketing tactics and attitudes towards the core product or service is required and the focus has to be on the customer of the future, rather than hanging on to the one of today.”
Download the full McCarron Coates report here.