How the Netherlands got to know the red high-speed train
Traveling with Thalys means speed, comfort and luxury. The famous, bright red Thalys trains transport passengers across an efficient network between Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, with top speeds going up to 300 km/h. Traveling from Rotterdam to Paris only takes 2 hours and 37 minutes. In 2010, Thalys decides to work together with Bijl PR to increase visibility in the Netherlands and stimulate traveling with the red, record-speed trains.
STRATEGY AND APPROACH
To start with we developed a PR strategy that maximized the focus on Thalys’s know-how and expertise when it comes to high-speed train travel to the Dutch public. We started with the basics. Bijl PR functions as a press office for Thalys, so we can improve accessibility and information flow for Dutch journalists. Next, we defined the core messages, creating a structured PR and communication flow. ‘High speed’, ‘comfort’ and ‘discovery’ are the common thread we base all PR initiatives on. We trained company representatives to improve the reach of Thalys’s messaging, both through conversations we had with the media, and presentations at conventions and congresses. And, finally: by striking up a conversation with the client.
Stories by Thalys’s passengers…
The stories told by Thalys’s passengers give the Thalys brand a face, both literally and figuratively. Their enormous variety shows how Thalys connects cultures and countries. We bring the unique train experience to life. By sharing these stories through multiple channels we make sure that traveling with Thalys constantly grabs everyone’s attention.
and Thalys employees
Regularly, we also shine a light on Thalys’s human side by bringing the company’s employees to the forefront. For example, we introduced annual press talks between the Thalys CEO and Dutch journalists. We reported on the first female engine driver at Thalys. In short, we constantly demonstrate that Thalys is more than just a red train, we showcase diversity within the company and create sympathy for the brand.
Communication is always open and transparent, with lots of attention for the needs and importance of the passengers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, we pro-actively communicated about any changes to the train schedule, safety measures on board and travel options in case safety measures are lifted.
The typical Dutch down-to-earth-ness, expertise and vigour that is typical for Bijl PR have led the way for us for ten years. At top speed and with a broad perspective on Europe – just how we like it at Thalys.
Communication & Public Relations Manager Thalys
During our more than ten-year collaboration with Thalys we shaped our PR strategy in several different ways. We created news, constantly based on developments coming from within the organisation, and cleverly played into current events. The foundation is always a well thought-out approach that ensures Thalys’s frequent visibility, alternated with periodical campaigns and events. A selection:
Annual press meetings with Thalys CEO in the Netherlands
Media attention surrounding the introduction of Thalys’s new destinations – from the opening of the 10th frequency to Paris, till destinations such as Lille and Disneyland Paris. We ensure a close commitment from passengers for and during each event.
An average of 10 press releases a year about developments in Thalys’ schedule and service.
Dozens of blogger and influencer trips, such as a trip to Paris with 38 bloggers on board, in collaboration with L’Oréal Paris, that reached thousands of people through Instagram and Facebook posts.
An unforgettable campaign featuring newly-wed couples in wedding attire getting on the train to Paris to celebrate the tenth daily Thalys to the French capital. The result: dozens of publications in Dutch media.
The organisation and coaching of dozens of press trips and PR events, from an interview with the director of the Michelin restaurant guide to a visit to the start of the Tour de France in Brussels. We also hosted and coached multiple camera crews for on—board reporting.
Thalys has strengthened its position in the Netherlands in the last years. Visibility has greatly increased. Not just visibility of the product, but also of Thalys as an authority in the field of international train transport. The Dutch media know how to find Thalys with questions about high speed train transport. The company frequently lets itself be heard when it comes to current themes surrounding traffic and transportation, such as working on how to make train travel more sustainable.
Over the years, our efforts have led to hundreds of publications in national, regional and lifestyle media (print, online, social media and TV) and many interview requests. The number of collaborations with press and influencers has increased greatly during the past years. From lifestyle influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, niche travel and green living bloggers to editors of popular magazines. Thalys features in blogs, on Instagram, in YouTube videos and on podcasts. The high-speed red train can’t be missed, both on- and offline.
AVERAGE NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS A YEAR
AVERAGE NUMBER OF PRESS AND INFLUENCER TRIPS A YEAR
AVERAGE POTENTIAL REACHT THANKS TO COLLABORATIONS WITH INFLUENCERS A YEAR
Thalys has been a loyal client for over ten years, and that makes us very proud, even though, after all these years, this client feels more like a long-distance colleague. From the launch of the tenth train to Paris, to the opening of a direct connection to Disneyland Paris: we’ve experienced and encouraged the development and growth of Thalys from up close from the start. We look forward to new highlights in our collaboration.