My recollection of train journeys as a youngster was that they were fairly grey, uninspiring affairs. They got you from A to B, often a bit later than they were supposed to. I’m probably doing the guard fraternity a bit of a disservice when I say the maximum amount of interaction with staff on board centred around the familiar, gruff refrain of ‘Tickets please!’
Fast forward forty years, via a controversial denationalization process and welcome on board Virgin trains. I don’t care what anyone else says, this brand knows how to do personality and it makes me smile. Which other brand would put a unit at mainline stations specifically for thirsty dogs (Virgin is unquestionably the preferred travel brand for all pooches) and give you a humorous tannoy reminder of what not to flush down the loo while you are taking a pee. In addition to the items you might expect; unwanted bills, your ex’s sweater and goldfish are also not permitted down a Virgin train toilet. Darn, I’m going to have to take it to the clothes bank after all. I can’t help wondering though, if the Virgin brand team considered whether making men laugh while they try to have a pee on board is not necessarily a well targeted idea (do you see what I did there….?).
Then there are the staff, looking generally resplendent in the brand colours, who are encouraged, perhaps even mandated to express their personalities as they go about their duties. What a top idea it is to encourage your employees to just be themselves. After all isn’t that what you hired them for? Do the trains always arrive on time? Probably not, but who cares. For this traveler at least, they are invariably a pleasurable experience.
And finally you have the post journey satisfaction survey, cleverly retitled as the Awesometer. That’s right, we’re not boring, we’re awesome. I’m definitely going to nick that one. Ssshh….I already have.
Thanks Virgin Trains. You tick the box for me every time.