Belgian rail sells tickets via Facebook Messenger

Belgian rail company NMBS has started the sale of tickets via Facebook Messenger.  At present only youngsters purchasing a Go Unlimited pass can use the service, but there are plans to expand the service further.

The rail company NMBS is entering uncharted waters.  Young people are its first target for Facebook Messenger sales.  Go Unlimited offers unrestricted travel for a week or a month.

So how does the new system work?  NMBS's Dimitri Temmerman: "You purchase your ticket via a chatbot: Céline is your automated interlocutor.  She will answer your questions and sell you your ticket.  To pay you are directed to a pay page.  You are shown your ticket via Facebook Messenger and in turn you can show it to the conductor”.

For NMBS this is a pilot project that will be expanded if successful.  So far 1,500 Go Unlimited tickets have been sold via Messenger.  Last year in all 83,000 such tickets were sold.  The NMBS is also eager to encourage the purchase of tickets online and via its app. At present 40% of all rail tickets are bought from station windows or conductors. Half are purchased from vending machines, while only 10% are bought online.

There are also plans to make purchase of tickets via the app easier allowing payments through the Bancontact app.