Details – The devil in digital marketing : A Eurostar case study

Boosting your travel experience

I enjoy travel, despite the myriad hassles*.  Digital is now an integral part of that travel experience.  Thus, I also enjoy pointing out digital marketing initiatives by travel companies. For example, I am a regular on the EUROSTAR between Paris and London.

  • Hat tip number 1: Free wifi at St Pancras Station (wake up Gare du Nord!).
  • Hat tip number 2: A recharging station for smartphones in the Business Class lounges at Gare du Nord and St Pancras, especially useful for the meekly-batteried Apple phones [photo below].  I note that this recharge station was first conceived in 2002… quite avant garde!
Eurostar smartphone recharge station, Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Eurostar phone recharge station at Gare du Nord: photo #1

Upon closer examination (see next photo), you will see that each box with its own key (and large phone-shaped keychain) is designed for a specific handset.  The options include Universal, Blackberry, ipod/iTouch, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5.  Up until now, I am impressed (although still irked that we need different connections for the latest iPhone, but that’s another story).

recharge booth with different names, Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Recharge station, Closer Details, photo #2

Then, I go to plug in my iPhone 4S.  And, this is when the fun begins.  It turns out that pretty much all of the individually named boxes have the wrong cables.  You can see the one for iPhone 4 below — and will recognize that that the attachment is not iPhoney.

iphone 4 box, recharge booth with different names, Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

Photo #3: iPhone 4 cable?

Execution is strategic

A good idea remains a good idea only with good execution.   In the world of digital marketing and social media marketing, within an organization, we are all responsible for helping improve execution.  It is a group responsibility and a group learning process.  If the details are left down to a few “geeks” in the firm, a digital marketing strategy is bound not to work.  In this Eurostar initiative, it is hard to conceive that such a recharging station made it all the way to implementation without one or other Eurostar personnel trying it out, no?  Similarly, for brands pushing out messages via the digital channels, all must have the digital business acumen to verify the details.  This is true of messages posted on the Facebook wall, navigation on the internet site, detecting bugs on the mobile interface, etc.  Execution is strategic and we must all learn to inspect and evaluate the details.

Post Scriptum

To the credit of the Eurostar staff at Gare du Nord, once I had shown them the mistake, within 30 minutes, there was someone busily reconfiguring each of the cases to match up the cable with the right phone.  Proof that crowdsourcing your R&D can work!

*I enjoy travel so much, I once invested in a travel agency.

Additional P.P.S. (29/12/12):  While traveling back from Brussels yesterday, I observed that the Recharge booth in the Eurostar lounge there is also rife with the same mistakes.  Funny how no one has thought to clear up all the different stations.  A possible solution would be to have a multiple set of connections per box, eliminating the need to have the right cable and the right number of boxes per booth.  Your thoughts?