As a business we recognise that our ability to please our existing customers and attract new ones, is dependent upon us delivering the services they want at prices they can afford.
Although we have invested in a number of acquisitions in recent years, we remain focused on driving organic growth within our business. We will only do this by attracting more passengers and customers by running the services they want at prices they value, in an efficient way. In short, by achieving operational excellence, day-in, day-out.
This is why we have an Excellence value and it requires us to ‘constantly strive to be excellent in all that we do.’
These are not just words: the business’ commitment to excellence and industry-leading performance is reflected in the investment and initiatives outlined under the other Values. It is also evident in the fact that we carried more passengers in our UK coach and ALSA operations in 2017, driven by our Revenue Management Systems that allow sophisticated and targeted pricing for passengers in real-time. Equally, our Low Fare Zones in our UK bus business have bucked national trends and radically cut some fares and generated significant passenger growth where they have been implemented.
Indeed, overall in 2017 we carried over 882 million passengers, up 1.2% on a continuing basis, on 2016.
This nimble and granular approach is entirely in line with our Vision of earning the lifetime loyalty of our customers by consistently delivering frequent, high performing public transport services which offer excellent value. It is also at the heart of our excellence value and we believe the way that we will drive growth and improve returns for shareholders.
It is pleasing therefore that our excellence was also recognised by outside bodies and organisations. Among many awards, Kings Ferry won the Large Fleet Operator of the Year award at the UK Coach Awards. Our customer service and safety awards are set out below. And our UK bus, coach and ALSA’s Spanish operations now hold a five-star European Foundation for Quality Management accreditation, one of the world’s leading excellence accreditation bodies.
Last year we introduced our Delivering Excellence programme. We are now able to report on a full year of the programme. Delivering Excellence is designed to help fully embed a culture of excellence across the Group by drawing on examples of best practice both within our existing businesses and also adopting them from external organisations. It also combines as a development opportunity for high-potential managers with them spending up to six months to interrogate specific business practices and make recommendations for improvement.
In 2017, the Delivering Excellence teams conducted detailed reviews of driver recruitment, training, management and utilisation. These reviews have resulted in the introduction of new Group-wide standard operating excellence procedures and also generated savings for each business’ 2018 budget. This programme will continue in 2018 with new intakes of high-potential managers and new projects.