PHOTO: Eurail's ICE 3 German Fast Train. (photo via Flickr/Roderick Eime)
Eurail—the providers of the Eurail Pass—has introduced a host of new developments for 2017.
Clarissa Mattos, Eurail’s market manager for Americas & Pacific, who recently spoke with TravelPulse in New York City, detailed the new features:
— Eurail has added Eurostar, the high-speed rail service linking the U.K. with mainland Europe, to its membership. Under the new partnership, Eurail Pass holders traveling on Eurostar can now get new special fares and greater availability of seat reservations.
— A new France One Pass has been introduced. Previously, the France One Pass had to be purchased directly from the French Railways. Travelers can now purchase it through Eurail for either three, four, five or eight days of travel within a month.
— A new Two-Country Select Pass combining Italy Switzerland is now available. It was introduced in response to demand from both consumers and travel agents. Included with the pass are several of Switzerland's scenic trains, including the Glacier Express, which links Zermatt with St. Moritz, and the Bernina Express, which travels between Chur, Switzerland and Tirano, Italy.
— Eurail has raised the eligible age for its Youth Pass from 26 to 28. It said the decision is in line with changing adult market demographics along with its desire to work within European standards, as there has been a general rise in age for who is considered a "youth."
— A new Eurail partnership with Disneyland-Paris gives Eurail Pass holders a 20 euro discount [$19] on a Disneyland Paris ticket, which includes one-day tickets to Disneyland Park or Walter Disney Studios Park or a one-day two Parks ticket.
Mattos also reported a strong boost in sales for Eurail at the end of 2016. That comes on the heels of a challenging year for European tourism, she added.
“We were encouraged by the end of year sales for Europe in multiple markets,” Mattos said. “2016 end-of-year sales outperformed 2014 and 2015 in the U.S. With the product renewals for 2017, we are optimistic about Eurail’s growth in 2017.”
Eurail’s Eurail Pass provides flexible, unlimited rail and ferry travel in up to 28 European countries. Passengers can take as many trains as they want on each of their travel days, and the company has partnerships with more than 35 rail and ferry companies.
There are three types of Eurail passes:
— The Eurail Global Pass, which offers rail travel between 28 European countries.
— The Eurail Select Pass, which offers travel for two, three or four countries.
— The Eurail One Country Pass, which available in 22 countries.
Different Eurail partners also offer discounts on sightseeing tours and hotel stays.
According to Mattos, the U.S. has historically been—and continues to be—one of Eurail’s most important markets. It’s currently the largest Eurail market with a share of 32 percent of all Eurail passengers.
“We see Eurail Passes as a product which goes beyond transportation,” said Mattos. “Eurail is a European experience that encompasses the benefits of rail travel, and added value services. For example, an exclusive discount for Disneyland Paris—up to 20% off city cards in popular destinations—and a range of other discounts on museums, accommodation, and ferries.
“Most importantly, Eurail offers a unique opportunity to authentically connect to European culture, its history and its people.”
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Mattos also stressed the importance of travel agents to Eurail’s U.S. sales: “The agent plays a decisive role by giving advice on the right Pass and may influence the product experience."
“As we offer a very extensive portfolio, with a broad range of additional advantages, agents can make a difference by narrowing the choices and providing guidance to assure travelers have a smooth Eurail trip and the best European experience,” she added.
Eurail Passes are available through a worldwide network of Authorized General Sales Agents (GSA’s) on Eurail.com, (Eurail’s online sales channel), along with major players in the rail and travel industry, including Rail Europe, ACP Rail International, and STA Travel (Student Travel Experts).
Commissions and compensation models vary from GSA to GSA.