PT marketing summit

The public transport industry was treated to a series of talks by some top marketing minds

A master class on marketing and branding was held at the Translink office in Brisbane, organised by International Association of Public Transport Australia and New Zealand (UITPANZ).

UITPANZ executive director Rob Pearce welcomed the group of about 50 people to the forum, which included Australasian-based public transport marketing and communications professionals.

"We are honoured to have so many knowledgeable speakers, from a broad range of different organisations and backgrounds here today," he says.

"We are here to examine best practice both locally and internationally, look at different aspects of marketing and branding for public transport and discuss some of the key concepts and innovations that have been made in this field."

Pearce says the class was held so presenters and delegates could share ideas on how public transport and customer experience can be improved in Australia and New Zealand.

PTV general marketing Phillip Askew spoke about his time creating a campaign around behavioural change among public transport users.

The goal was to acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviour so the PTV marketing team came up with concept of the ‘Model Commuter’.

They put up posters on our services and at stations and we had actual models at North Melbourne station, such as the ‘seat offerer’ and the ‘volume controller’.

Keynote local speaker and TransLink executive director customer experience Weitke Smith spoke about the process of brand familiarisation and the marketing campaign the organisation rolled out on the Gold Coast.

TransLink created pop-up bus shelters in Cavil Mall, where members of the public were encouraged to take a ‘selfie’ with the character they created known as Cupid, and post the image and share it with friends and family on Facebook.


Next to take the podium was international keynote speaker and Auckland Transport branding and customer design manager Maree Cotter.

She spoke about the experience and knowledge gained from bringing various public transport organisations under the one Auckland Transport banner.

Transport for NSW general manager marketing communications and customer experience division Rita Harding spoke about network integration and her experience building the Transport for NSW brand.  Harding was tasked with bringing many public transport entities under the one umbrella brand.

Interfleet Transport Advisory director Simon Dobson spent almost a decade increasing patronage in east London at a time when the light railway network was expanding.

He talked about their efforts to connect communities that were not previously connected and educate residents how to use the new network.

His marketing team had specifically targeting non-users and were trying to understand the barriers to usage.

They got out and about in the community and asked what was stopping people from using public transport and found that a lot simply didn’t really know how to use the network.

Because people in the community were so unsure about how to use the network, they the marketing team decided to run ‘accessibility trips’.

"We would actually show and educate them in person on how to use the public transport network, and we did 4000 of these accessibility trips a year," Dobson says.

This resulted in 1.2 million more trips per year and helped people feel much more confident about their ability to get around.

"What we’re doing was very hands-on and innovative, with a strong focus on real community outreach," Dobson says.


The final speaker at the event was Grounded Communications director Daniel Moloney who has worked in crisis management for public transport providers.

Moloney says it’s crucial to be able to have a communications team that can tell the difference between a minor issue and a major crisis and what to know factors can make a small incident become a major issue in the public transport sphere.

He explained public transport providers needed to be especially well prepared, because they provide a public service that the community depend on and that public expectation is very high in this industry.

The marketing team also needs to review all advertising campaigns they have in place, if the organisation is involved in an incident of any kind.

After afternoon tea, the room was divided into groups that were given the task of coming up with  some key principles for a marketing and branding strategy that incorporated some of the lessons learned from the day.

Some of the key messages from the event were ensuring your marketing and branding plans are well thought-out and well-delivered, try to have a good understanding of what the customer wants and any barriers that may deter them from using public transport, consider utilising social media and ensure you have face to face community interaction by planning an event as part of the campaign launch.

Pearce says the group had gained more knowledge in key areas and every effort should be made by marketing professionals to keep up to date with the latest strategies and learn from others in the industry, to maximise opportunities that will help to improve public transport in our communities.

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