As I look to land a role in London I am also looking for some flexibility in not only working pattern but also commuting services. I want to do three fixed days in London (Wednesday to Friday) and two days from home to begin with. This means I will have to book travel and accommodation on a weekly basis for over forty weeks of the year. There seems to be a real service industry opportunity to help people like me in this position as I assume I am not alone in this pattern of working? Am I? So here are a few ideas that would make my soon to be life a lot easier.
I want to book two trains a week for the foreseeable future. I would like to be able to block book say a months worth of train tickets. This would also enable me to take the best prices available on those routes at my allotted times. At the moment this is a laborious process where I have to book each trip individually. Just a simple repeat this booking for next X weeks would be a fairly simple addition I would have thought.
In addition to this some decent notifications capability around booking would be helpful. ‘Aden your preferred route and time slot is at its cheapest price now and will go up in 24 hours to £x. Book now?’ That is a call to action I will be answering.
The ability to change up or down times of travel more easily would also be great. I often book the last train home to Sheffield which is a killer. It leaves St. Pancras at 22.25 and gets into Sheffield around 1.30. I wish I could easily switch to an earlier train sometimes. This would be a great realtime offer from East Midlands, ping me around 7pm ‘Fancy getting home two hours earlier for just £10?’ Sold.
Why are season tickets only seen as something people who travel every day would use? Why are there no season tickets for a few days a week or even a daily season ticket? I want a year/three months of Wednesdays to London and Fridays back to Sheffield please.
Booking reservations being sent directly to my Google Calendar is a very nice feature but I agree strongly with Ben’s post about why on earth they don’t include the reference number in the headline calendar entry. Fix this please.
Better yet remove the need to collect paper tickets at all. When are trains getting paperless tickets like airlines? An app and a QR code seems easy at the software level, the challenge is the barriers and ticket collectors handheld devices. I think we are a way off that yet for East Midlands trains but we live in hope so there is less rush and hassle at the station just walk straight onto a train.
Similarly to train bookings there is no easy way to block book hotel rooms. I have contacted several hotels to see if any deals are possible and they have quoted me ludicrous business rates which I could get cheaper from any search. Real missed opportunity to build loyalty? I am hoping to get two nights in London for round about £120…the cheaper the better though. Give me your tiniest windowless broom cupboard. As long as it has a bed big enough for me, a shower/toilet/sink and is relatively close to a tube station / my future place of work, then I will be very happy.
I have also considered AirBnB and I wish they had some more commuter friendly options. If I can’t find a regular hotel cheap enough then maybe a deal could be done with an AirBnB host. Try out their flat a few times, get to know the owner see if they will do a block booking off AirBnB at a better price without them taking a cut or AirBnB could build that service (bordering on renting rather than hotel use) and level out the service charges etc. etc. Maybe some sort of auction / VRM style process. I have £120 for two nights for x weeks in this sort of area, who can accommodate me?
Another nice plus would be the ability to store a bag in London. The ability to just leave a toiletry bag and some clean underwear/clothes/phone charger/gym gear/12″ Breakfast Plate would be great. What is the scope for something like that? Hotels? Helpful landlord in the AirBnB scenario, a locker at work perhaps or some sort of locker elsewhere?
Keeping track of what I spend in a month/quarter/year on travel would be a very useful service indeed. Basic Personal Financial Management features for a bank capable. Some service like Expensify could also help here but for ease, built into my bank would be ideal. One day perhaps. Come on Mondo et al.
I am sure when I actually get a job there will be other services I will want to make use of but for now these seems like the most pressing needs. Please someone fix them, especially you East Midlands Trains. If anyone has any pointers for services that can help with these kinds of requests then please do let me know.
Update: Simon White made this lovely observation. If only I had two wheels.