Megabus – Changing the Image of Road Travel

When UK coach travel company megabus.com decided to launch on the European continent, they reached us to raise their brand awareness and start regular PR activities. We focused our strategy on presenting coach travel as a cheaper, more sustainable and safer way to travel in Europe in comparison to other transport solutions.

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Context

When British coach company Stagecoach, owner of megabus.com, started their activities on the continent and opened their first European base in Brussels, we were chosen to transform that strategy into a successful Public Relations campaign (main press and B2B travel media), as well as Public Affairs activities. That launch was the first step of a communication plan to extend megabus.com‘s brand awareness across Europe, with the opening of new destinations and new bases regularly. Proposing tickets as from 1€, one of the most challenging aspect of the mission was to turn down the negative image of the low cost model. Another objective was to position megabus.com as a European leader in the road travel industry, offering great prices, safe travelling and a full quality service.

 

Objectives & Implementation

The first step was to announce the arrival of megabus.com in continental Europe and start working on their brand awareness and their service offerings. A few months later, we organized an event for the opening of the first European base in Brussels. That event consisted in a media briefing with national and local media (press and RTV) and Travel & Tourism media. After that event, we distributed press releases on a regular basis (±2/month) with corporate news, new destinations, services extensions, new bases. In parallel, we created and maintained relations with different stakeholders (Public Affairs): politicians, local authorities, national association of coach operators, travel associations. The objective was to create and increase a positive perception of road travelling (lower emissions, cheaper, very secure) and to urge on the need for a road station in Brussels. Other PR activities consisted in organizing interviews with reporters, proposing test travels and make comparisons with other travel solutions. On the social media side, we created and managed megabus.com’s Belgian Facebook pages, with the creation of a daily posting plan, producing videos and pictures, replying to travelers’ requests, giving travel advice, suggesting destinations, organizing contests, etc. We also monitored the news on a daily basis to use negative events appearing in the media and use them in megabus.com’s advantage: public services strikes and airports, destinations (temporarily) inaccessible by train or air travel, etc. Our crisis communication experts also prepared a crisis handbook, giving steps and advice on appropriate reaction for difficult situations such as a coach crash, negative publicity from competitors, strikes, delays, incident with a driver, bad publicity from customers…

 

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Results

Megabus.com quickly became a leader in the travel industry in Belgium and then in Europe. Their brand awareness raised rapidly thanks to a large and regular press coverage and a high customer satisfaction level. The PR activities led to a positive change in the perception of coach travel amongst customers, authorities and the tourism industry. An average of 20 articles appeared each month in the media (B2B and B2C). About 12.000 fans subscribed to the Facebook page in the first 3 months. Becoming an increasingly essential actor, megabus.com was finally bought and rebranded by its competitor Flixbus.

 

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