There are various marketing challenges that face any business – but generally these boil down to: awareness, perception, and usage. Do people know you exist?, what do they think of you?, and do they use you – and how frequently?.
So how do you market a train station? The vast majority of your audience are on their way to work – or on their way home. The competition is high from one perspective – that there are a lot of train stations, tube stations, bus stations and simply other places to be in a metropolitan centre like London. On the other hand – is there really any competition from other stations? After all, people are going to use your station if it takes them to where they need to go. If the trains go south-east and I want to go north-west, well, no dice.
But re-frame the disengaged commuter problem a different way, stop thinking about yourselves as a station, and start to think about the buildings, the space, the facilities; shops, bars, and restaurants, and you have a completely different angle – you stop thinking terminal station and start thinking destination.
“We will know we’ve been successful when people start coming to St Pancras and have no intention of catching a train,” – Mike Luddy, project director for London & Continental Railways [Telegraph]
It was opened in 1868 by the Midland Railway as the southern terminus of its main line, which connected London with the East Midlands and Yorkshire. A gloriously indulgent piece of Gothic architecture, the building was nearly demolished in the 1960s, only to be saved through Grade 1 listing status. The building suffered even worse attack later in the 90s.
But the new millennium brought a new dawn and opportunity for the hotel and station and with £800m buying you quite a lot of ‘sprucing up’, then station was officially reopened by the Queen on 6 November 2007. 15 platforms serving four operators, you can reach Kent in 20-40 minutes, and Paris in 90.
The station have worked hard to create that sense of destination – with mini evening concerts taking place (to encourage you to linger), a selection of boutique shops for (last minute) present shopping, and a number of bars and restaurants. Not a McDonald’s in sight, and even Pret is tucked away around the corner.
St Pancras contains my favourite London Bar – Searcy’s St Pancras Grand. Situated next to their incredibly long Champagne bar on the station concourse, is an enticing world designed by Martin Brudnizki, and awaiting your arrival to whisk you away from the hustle and bustle of the passengers outside.
Step through the reception area, have your coat taken, and then head in to the perfectly-dimly-lit interior, with it’s sumptuous décor and ample seating; formal dining, and aperitif sofas.
You don’t need to take the Eurostar to Paris to experience the Parisian service – to many this may be off-putting, but to me it’s a wonderful way of forcing you to take time out from your day, and to relax, knowing that whatever you do, the waiter won’t attend to you any quicker. A Gin and Tonic later, and you won’t mind at all – that’s if you can fit any tonic in the glass.
For more information about Searcy’s visit http://searcys.co.uk/venues/st-pancras-grand/
For more information about St Pancras station, it’s restaurants and facilities, visit http://stpancras.com