Using e-learning to create enthusiasm for Swiss public transport

Customer Swiss Travel System AG | Solution E-Learning Content | Year 2020/2021

Swiss Travel System AG (STS) is a marketing company established by SBB (Swiss Federal Railways), Swiss Tourism and five Swiss transportation companies in 2011. More than 30 employees work in the company’s headquarters in Zurich and other offices in Singapore, China, Mumbai and New York to conduct marketing activities related to public transport in Switzerland and promote travel from neighboring countries. The objective of STS AG’s work is to introduce tourists to the ways that they can explore Switzerland by rail, bus and ship.

The situation

E-learning works – externally, too

When people hear the word “e-learning,” they will usually think of the training provided to their own employees. Digital learning content can also be taught to external target groups if long-term – but entertaining – knowledge is to be imparted. Swiss Travel System AG also believes in this concept and is planning to teach its business partners scattered around the world about the Swiss transport system in a comprehensive e-learning program. It will be the world’s only e-learning program that covers a country’s entire public transport system.

A country full of tourism highlights

STS uses a wide variety of communication channels that are aimed directly at travelers. But the most important interface with end consumers is tour operators and their travel experts around the world. These are the individuals who can book such tours as a trip from Zermatt in Europe’s highest, open-air cog railway or an excursion by ship on Lake Lucerne for tourists. STS markets a public transport network that covers about 29,000 kilometers. It has more than enough room for all sorts of touristic opportunities that travel agents should know all about – a Herculean task, to say the least.

„We certainly would love to do more traveling and personally train our business partners, but it would require a huge logistical and financial effort, something that is simply not realistic. We thought the e-learning program would be the best way to keep training costs under control.“

Isabella Ignacchiti, Head of Marketing Communication at Swiss Travel System AG

The solution

Using storytelling and a contest to playfully share knowledge

After studying the market, STS asked youknow to conceive and produce a comprehensive e-learning that also incorporated a contest program. The declared objective is to expand the course participants’ base of knowledge and thus enable them to sell the products with greater confidence. A secondary goal is to get the travel experts excited about Swiss public transport, enable them to pass on this enthusiasm to end customers and thus increase the number of trips booked.

The program begins with a starter course that all participants must attend. The main segment of the training program comes next. It is broken down into three parts (basic, advanced and expert). As a way of increasing intrinsic motivation, all participants are free to select the sequence of the courses that they attend, an option that enables them to take their own individual knowledge base and learning speed into consideration. Every course ends with a test, the results of which are rated bronze, silver or gold. After passing all three tests, the participants are awarded the status of “Swiss Travel System excellence expert” and receive a diploma that they can print out.

The program’s designers were determined to create training courses that were both attractive and fun. This is why gamification elements – drawn from “real travel experiences” – played a key role as part of incentivization: At the end of every course, participants are asked to take a picture that will be added to a virtual photo album. The photo album fills up, picture by picture, during the training program – just like a “real trip” and reminds participants of their “journey across Switzerland.” Points are awarded for every completed course, for completion of the final test and for a defined speed factor that applies to completion of the test. The participants boost their scores as they amass points. As the score climbs, they also increase their chance of being among the lucky winners of a quarterly drawing.

Two protagonists join the participants on their journey: the adventurous Heidi who is always searching for the best panorama; and Peter who is concerned above all about the punctuality and comfort of the world’s most closely knit transport network. Heidi and Peter turn up not just during the training courses. They also are found in all supplementary material, acting as a guide of sorts through the entire story.

What’s next?

The training program is offered in German, English and Chinese (simplified) on a landing page that was created for this very purpose and a learning management system that supports it. The global campaign launched in March 2021 promotes the topics in the media. The business partners are initially invited to attend the training course in a B2B newsletter. They can use the newsletter to register for the courses.

“We can’t wait to see how the program is received by tour operators. It is, after all, the first time that we have ever launched such a large campaign,” Isabella Ignacchiti said. “We really think that the combination of motivating e-learning elements and contests will produce many new experts about Swiss public transport. With the help of this innovative presence in markets, we have found a great way to get people excited about public transport in Switzerland and to boost the industry’s revenues over the long term.”

But the challenge does not stop here: Starting in 2022, course participants can expect to be surprised by even more exciting content and motivational elements.

Check out the training program here

Are you interested in discovering Swiss public transport for yourself? The following video will introduce you to the entire program and give you a feel for an advanced course.

How can we support you?

Would you like to arrange a consulting meeting with us and learn more about our e-learning solutions? Simply get in touch and we will find the optimal consulting solution for you.
Ulrike Meissner, Sales Manager

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