Rail ticket firm Voyages-sncf enjoyed record trade sales in the last two years, according to head of UK sales Paul Lacey.
Formerly Rail Europe, the company rebranded 15 months ago and now operates under Voyages-sncf.eu for trade sales, while its consumer counterpart is run under a .com address.
“Both 2013 and 2014 were record sales for our trade business in the UK”, Lacey told Travel Weekly.
Speaking at the launch of the company’s summer booking programme, he said the business to business share of UK sales had been around 40% for several years but had grown over the past couple of years.
“In 2014 it was actually 47% with a 16% sales growth from 2013”, he said.
Explaining how the company works with the trade, Lacey said: “We have a broad trade distribution via tour operators, general retail travel agents, specialist rail agents/operators and business travel agents.
“More and more agents and operators are recommending European rail as a credible option for their customers and clients, either as an alternative to air or coach or as a part of a journey or holiday.”
The company has been increasingly working with cruise companies to create packages for those with a preference for rail transport.
“My sales team work closely with agents and operators to look at new opportunities for developing rail options for their brochures and customer offering”, said Lacey.
“Most recently we have been working with some cruise companies particularly river cruise companies such as Avalon and Viking where the customer profile is often attracted to a non-flying option and who usually have more time available to reach their cruise departure point and want a different experience.
“The early signs of these collaborations are very encouraging and we’ve seen some good new business. This has a positive knock on effect for agents who sell these brands as they have a greater choice for their customers”.
Lacey added that fares were cut by 6% at the start of the month to reflect the strength of pound sterling against the euro. Voyages-sncf last week distributed a guide on selling the benefits of rail travel to agents.
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