Businesses are set to benefit from a new collaboration between Virgin Trains and Eurostar which creates an end to end rail booking service between major routes and mainland Europe.
In the first partnership of its kind between Eurostar and a UK train operating company, the initiative offers a “one-stop shop” service targeting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE) market, removing the logistics of having to book separate journeys.
This will enable customers to book a through-fare with Virgin or Eurostar from destinations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham to Paris, Lille and Brussels.
The service also gives organisations and planners the ability to change or transfer tickets between delegates and to book out entire train carriages for events at discounted travel rates.
Groups can choose from Standard or First Class exclusive carriages or a combination of both, including personal branding as well as a variety of catering options.
VIP hosts will guide customers to and from St Pancras on the Virgin Trains leg of the journey.
Customers can now book the entire trip directly through either the Virgin Trains Red Carpet team or Eurostar’s groups team.
There is also an option to book a variety of unique experiences on board Eurostar, tailored for the event or destination, with activities including cheese and wine tasting, discovering artesian history and art classes.
The partnership has already been positively welcomed by European business travellers in Barcelona as it was officially unveiled (27 November) at IBTM World exhibition, with Visit Britain encouraging the overseas market to take advantage of the service.
Head of Offline Channels for Virgin Trains, Adrienne Nankivell, said: “This partnership provides the ideal solution for the business traveller searching for the best way to travel between destinations in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.By creating a “one-stop shop” booking service we are able to offer a convenient way to travel for large groups who want an excellent customer experience.
“We are very much looking forward to developing this service for those intending on visiting Europe or the UK for business.”
Head of Sales, Simon Tyler, at Eurostar, said: “We are pleased to extend our MICE offer working with Virgin trains to make it even easier for groups to discover a wider range of destinations. Our dedicated MICE experiences have proved popular since they launched this summer, with passengers able to relax and enjoy tailored activities in their exclusive Eurostar carriage. We look forward to launching this partnership and offering even more MICE travellers a journey to remember.”
VisitBritain’s Head of Business Events Kerrin MacPhie said: “We are excited to be part of a collaboration to drive growth to more destinations across the UK for the international MICE market, giving event planners and their delegates the chance to easily explore our wider business events offer.
“This new booking experience provides convenience for the MICE market, easing the planning process and encouraging more international meetings to take place right across our nations and regions. Travelling is part of the meeting experience and by offering seamless transport options it positions the UK another step closer to being the leading destination for international MICE events.”
About Virgin Trains
Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the West Coast inter-city route under the Virgin Trains brand, revolutionising travel on one of the UK’s key rail arteries.
The network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and London.
Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains ahead of other long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
Virgin Trains has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme, introducing the industry-leading onboard entertainment streaming service, BEAM, and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.
Virgin Trains operated the East Coast route between March 1, 2015 and June 24, 2018. In that time, we invested £75m to create a more personalised travel experience, including over £40m in the existing fleet. Customers have benefitted from 48 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2015.
Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country whilst enabling further investment and improvement, and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.
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