For a catering concept to become a success on board a train, we at the LSG Group have to consider every aspect of the service.
Following an in-depth analysis of the competition, train operator’s positioning and passenger segmentation, we invite our existing or potential customer to a workshop where we present and discuss with them the service concept we believe will work best. Decision-makers take part in these workshops along with Product Management and Operations experts so that we can shed light on all aspects of a passenger journey and tap the relevant expertise.
From theory to practice
If the train operator offers its guests a station lounge, the workshop covers this first. It then moves to the catering offered on board. Throughout, key questions are asked. Who provides the catering service at the moment? Does the train operator have its own crew or could we offer a solution? Working with a motivated and trained crew on board contributes immensely to the success of a catering concept.
Then we look at the products. What products could be offered and at what time of the day? Should they be high-end or inexpensive or a mix of both? Must they be served in an on-board bistro or as an “in-seat service?” In order to find answers to these questions together, we then present a selection of relevant products. Experience has shown us that getting to hold a product makes it much easier to imagine whether you would buy it or not. We often directly involve our colleagues who specialize in, for example, box concepts (Oakfield Farms), on-board retail (Retail inMotion) and equipment (SPIRIANT). When it comes to product selection, it is important that we not make a decision based on our own gut feeling. That is why we reinforce the selection with as many facts and as much consumer information as possible.
Our customers value our external perspective and are usually very open to simply trying out new processes and products. When it comes to innovations in the product area, we are initially often met with confusion and indecisiveness, and comments to the effect that the idea is not going to work. However, once the workshop participants have let the information about the products sink in a little, they are usually very open-minded to our suggestions and new ideas. In many cases, you can only tell a promising innovation at second glance.
Carina Jonas has been Director Train Services Germany at the LSG Group since 2015 and focuses on concept development and implementation in the German market.