SOURCE: Rail Europe

October 11, 2006 16:19 ET

Rail Europe Peak Season Sales Growth: Exceeds Market Trend for European Travel

WHITE PLAINS, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 11, 2006 -- Rail Europe reports sales in the past five months increased at a rate that far exceeds that of North American travel to Europe in the same period. In some peak season months Rail Europe's sales growth -- comparing 2006 revenues to the same months last year -- were double the trend, as reported by the European Travel Commission. Rail Europe is the largest North American supplier of European railpasses and tickets, owned by the French National Railroads (SNCF) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and celebrating its 75th year of operations in North America.

"This is the first time that European rail is growing faster than the market," stated Fabrice Morel, President and CEO of Rail Europe.

In May this year, Rail Europe's sales were 14% higher than May 2005, while North American travel to Europe in May was up just 6.9%. In June Rail Europe saw an 11% increase over June 2005, and the ETC reported an overall 7.7% growth rate. July, August and September sales for Rail Europe were up 7%, 10% and 6%, respectively over the same months last year. Sales figures include railpasses and point-to-point tickets for both individual travelers and groups of 10 or more.

Growth attributed to website improvements

While these sales figures include transactions made via the company's website (www.raileurope.com) and call center, year-to-date website sales have increased 30% over the same period last year. Morel attributes the surge in sales to a series of improvements the company has made to its website:

"This spring we implemented a connection to European databases of train schedules and fares, which has given us the widest selection of prices and routes of any North American supplier -- quite simply no one else sells as much as we do," said Morel. "In addition, we introduced simplified pricing of point-to-point tickets to make it easier for travelers to find the type of ticket they need. And we jazzed up the site with virtual rail tours and a very dynamic look."

Broader range of fares, routes and passes

Product categories with exceptionally strong growth year-to-date for Rail Europe are: single-country railpasses (such as the France Railpass, Swiss Pass, German Railpass) up 14% over last year; deluxe high-speed trains, such as Thalys (Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam-Cologne) and AVE (Madrid-Cordoba-Seville) up 20%; and French point-to-point tickets -- up 49% over last year. "This year, we were able to start selling French 'market-priced' tickets, including advance purchase fares, many of which are priced 30-40% below standard fares," added Morel. "This plus the broader range of fares and schedules and simplified ticket pricing were the main factors that fueled our strong peak season sales."

Morel also noted that the company is refocusing on its core rail products, recently spinning off its non-rail business units (Avanti Destinations tour products and DER rental car and air consolidator operations) and dropping tour, air and land from its Groups division. Rosemont (IL) is still home to Rail Europe's rail-only call center, while DER non-rail and all Avanti products are handled out of Avanti's Portland, OR, office.

For more information or to book the widest range of European railpasses and tickets for individual and group (10 or more people) travel, contact a travel agent or log on to www.raileurope.com (US) or www.raileurope.ca (Canada) or call Rail Europe at 1-888-382-7245 (US) or 1-800-361-7245 (Canada).

Photos: high-resolution photos may be downloaded by the media at www.raileurope.com/presspix

Contact Information

  • Press contact:
    Chris Lazarus
    A.J. Lazarus Associates, Inc.
    (845) 855-8400
    Email Contact