Managing Event Travel

2014 has been Scotland’s year of big events, not just the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup but a host of other events across the country linked with the year of Homecoming. In logistics and transport everybody working in the industry has needed to learn new things. Many of us are now asking how to capture the spirit of better planning, customer service, efficiency and joint working from the events within day to day services. At Loop Connections our apps in Argyll, Glasgow and West Lothian helped to manage travel by encouraging customers to purchase smart travel tickets for parking, bus and rail enabling transport providers to prepare for the demand.

Derek Halden Director of Loop Connections writing in the Scotsman newspaper highlighted that:

“The packages of measures put in place for events could, if adopted permanently, improve safety, bring environmental benefits, save people money, and improve business productivity. A recent report by Transport for London shows that two years after the Olympic Games there has been a travel legacy with one in ten of Londoners travelling differently as a result of the changes they tried at the time of the Games. Could the same happen in Glasgow as a legacy of the Commonwealth Games?

Events prompt people and businesses to: reduce the amount of travel by doing thinks like working from home, retime trips to avoid busy periods, re-route travel to avoid busy places, and change the type of transport they use to make better use of the available capacity. All of these changes are what is described in the industry as ‘smart travel’ options. Could the smarter choice become everyday behaviour as a result of big events?

The most important point about smart travel is that people and businesses just want the best transport option. It is still too common for transport promotions to concentrate on particular ways of travelling, when smart travel is actually about putting people first. Focusing on events means that people trust the promotion more than for business as usual marketing. A broader view is taken of the whole transport system when thinking about getting people and freight to events.

Freight operators have worked together consolidate loads from different companies on fewer vehicles, and have taken opportunities to make deliveries at times of day when there is less congestion. These changes become essential for events, but once the smarter joint working arrangements are designed then these better planned deliveries can continue on other days. Sometimes just knowing who to talk to in another organisation or company is a bigger barrier to joint working than anything else. Partnership agreements negotiated for events on sensitive issues such as night time deliveries can be relatively easily extended and amended to cover other periods.

Events help people to become better informed about the travel options. If are prompted by an event to find out how to get better access to travel information, but then continue accessing this better information when deciding how to travel then they may travel smarter on a regular basis. Underpinning the success of travel for Scotland’s big events like the Commonwealth Games was much improved levels of communications between local authorities, operators, customers and employees compared with business as usual. This is particularly important as things often go wrong during one off events. It is not always possible to predict everything, but being able to work together enables the industry to avoid dramas becoming crises.

Each day over 14 million trips are made by people in Scotland and over 0.5 million tonnes of freight are moved. A daily travel choice is an opportunity to make improvements. Transport serves constantly changing patterns of activity. Some companies grow and others decline. New buildings are completed and old ones demolished. Travel patterns are very dynamic but transport provision can often take longer to catch up. The biggest travel event of 2014 is keeping Scottish transport running smoothly every day.

Increasing numbers of operators benchmark their operations against their competitors through benchmarking clubs. Public authorities are also adopting improved approaches to partnership working and staff training. Putting professionalism at the heart of logistics and transport delivery is the best way to ensure that mistakes from the past are not repeated and that new ways of making improvements are fully exploited.

When providing excellent customer service, whatever choice the customer has made, there must be support to reflect on what works and to make improvements. Everyone’s perceptions of success are different. Two years after the Olympic Games in London, Transport for London surveys show that people do not think they changed their behaviour permanently because of the Olympics. The statistics show that something did change with London’s big event, so the success is making the change normal, rather than associating it with something in the past. Like London, Scotland’s year of big events has been helping people and businesses to make new choices. To make this smart travel normal into the future people’s belief that logistics and transport have got better must be fulfilled by high customer services standards every day.”

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