What is 'TOC Wars'
It's a campaign by Virgin Trains East Coast to target customers of rival operators Grand Central and Hull Trains. The main part of the campaign is to hand out discount vouchers to passengers waiting for a Hull Trains or Grand Central service at VTEC managed stations such as Grantham and Doncaster where these rivals also operate. The discount is 30% but railcard discounts are not valid so it means railcard holders get no benefit from the promotion.
My first thought was this promotion was a bit immoral and possibly violates the contract other operators have for use of the station. VTEC is responsible for managing these stations on behalf of all train operating companies that use the station they're not supposed to use this position to actively encourage people not to use the services of a rival. Another issue is that the customers of these rival TOCs tend to be more price conscious (as the VTEC trains run more frequently) so it's likely they chose the other on price. So they'll use the discount code and then go back to travelling with the cheaper operators in future. There's also the disappointment factor, those with railcards will be disappointed when they find out they receive no additional discount.
The email sent to staff about the promotion actually lists Nectar Points as a 'compelling reason' to travel with them!
What's in the email?
Here's the full text of the email sent to staff:
We're continuing our KGX30 promotional discount.
Summary of the offer
Under the TOC WAR revenue strand, we have an opportunity at several stations to interrupt customers travelling with the competition and give them a compelling reason to consider and choose us next time. This promotion fulfils our business plan objective to 'arm our troops'. Our VTEC warriors will be armed with wallet sized weapons* to distribute to as many passengers as they can. Along with compelling reasons to travel with us, such as BEAM, James Martin, Total Rehaul, Frequency, First Class Lounges and Nectar points... the real offer they can't refuse will be 30% off their next 3 journeys with us. The aim is to inspire and convert travellers away from the competition. *not real weapons - these will be offer leaflets with unique codes to redeem discount.
Booking period Currently until 19/03/2019
Travel period Booking period plus booking horizon
Where to book This offer will be available at www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/kgx30
This offer cannot be booked at our stations or via telesales.
Terms and conditions http://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/kgx30[cut from this page as they're on the website anyway]
Where and how is this offer being promoted?
Discount cards are being distributed at station and onboard by our people as and when the appropriate opportunities present themselves.
What the campaign looks like