Show and go: Greyhound upgrades travel with e-ticketing
Greyhound has been in service for more than a century. Crystal Booker, Greyhound Lines, Inc., explains how such successful longevity required the North American company to keep up with the needs of a constantly evolving travel base.
As the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in North America, our commitment to customers has led to the complete transformation of the customer experience, by leveraging digital technology and removing the hassle from travel. As technology continues to transform within our field, we continuously seek new and convenient ways for customers to book travel with us.
The introduction of e-ticketing at Greyhound began in September 2017 in the northeast, followed by a national rollout two months later. What we refer to as ‘show and go’ e-ticketing allows our customers to board the bus with just a flash of their mobile device. This provides customers with the ability to book tickets online through the mobile responsive website, without printing tickets at home or picking them up at the station. As a result, customers can spend less time preparing to travel and our employees have greater opportunities to focus on other areas of customer service.
E-ticketing also helps customers keep track of tickets. A forgotten or misplaced ticket can sometimes result in travel delays, unnecessary extra costs or cancellations. Greyhound customers will soon be able to avoid this by presenting their e-tickets through our mobile app, making the travel process simpler than ever before. Prior to travel, customers will receive a special barcode that serves as a ticket, accessible by simply swiping right on the mobile device, where tickets for accompanying passengers will also be available. In the meantime, customers can print tickets or pick them up at our stations through our app and mobile website.
Customers have quickly adapted to e-ticketing, making it the preferred method of purchase over printing at home. By bringing this technology to the world of intercity bus transportation, we are opening the door to the next stage of bus travel. Although e-ticketing may be new to intercity bus travel, customers have found the transition to be more convenient than traditional methods. Since its introduction, 80 per cent of Greyhound customers use e-ticketing in the northeast and 65 per cent nationwide.
While e-ticketing simplifies the ticketing and boarding process, it has not come without its challenges. Greyhound reaches over 3,800 destinations nationwide with multiple terminals operating in each state. Having sold over 800,000 e-tickets in the first four months following its introduction, the demand resulted in a need for drivers to obtain upgraded technology. Previously, drivers tracked customers through a handwritten log. Greyhound has since developed a special driver app that now scans tickets, creating a quicker and more seamless onboarding process.
Transitioning to e-ticketing has not only had a positive effect on both drivers and customers, but also on the environment. E-ticketing allows us to ‘go green’ by reducing the amount of paper we use in our stations. When a customer chooses e-ticketing over printed tickets, they are contributing to helping the environment.
In addition to e-ticketing, one-click purchase capabilities were introduced in 2017, allowing our Road Rewards customers to store payment information within our site for a seamless checkout process. Customers can forgo the hassle of re-entering their payment information every time they purchase a ticket, making it as simple as flipping a switch. Greyhound is currently the only transportation provider within the United States that offers this technology to its customers.
Greyhound has also made improvements to the ticket purchasing process by unveiling a new layout for our search results page in February 2017: displaying fare prices upfront. Now, customers can view and select their travel schedule based on price, allowing them the flexibility to choose travel options that fit the needs of their budgets and schedules. Customers can also pre-pay for parking at the Greyhound terminal through Parking Panda, an online platform that allows customers to reserve parking prior to arrival. This allows our customers to bypass the hassle of searching for parking, especially during peak travel times such as holidays.
The future of intercity bus travel will continue to advance as we continue to embrace digital capabilities. By setting the standard for a seamless, hassle-free travel experience, we’re not only making the entire process simpler, but looking ahead to where technology will take travel in the future.