March 2, 2024

How to rethink rail

With long experience of inflight, Pep Manich Grau brought a new vision to rail hospitality with the launch of high-speed rail operator iryo, says Julie Baxter

Set the goal

The launch of the Spanish high-speed rail service by iryo last year aimed to create a new standard of comprehensive and customisable dining on trains. Gastronomy and onboard comfort were key, and crew were at the heart of the service, explains Pep Manich Grau, Director of Guest Experience.

Differentiate the offer

The goal was to do something different. To stand out from the competition but also bring innovation to the rail sector. This meant quality products and excellence in customer service achieved by bringing the operational (crew) and commercial  (customer experience) teams under one management. This is something not seen in airlines but ensures all parts of the business have the same customer-focused priorities. 

Take control

A unique gastronomic brand was created: Haizea. Its menu features seasonal products, healthy options, leading brands of beverages and regional Spanish wines. 

In the top cabin, Infinita, the new Infinita Bistró gastronomic tray-to-seat service is offered with five choices. Singular Only YOU and Singular ticket holders request the exclusive market menu at booking. A mobile bar service is also available or passengers can find tapas and local products in the Bar Haizea gastronomy area, designed for Inicial fare travellers.

Focus on training

To ensure exceptional service, iryo has customer service points in the stations to support the passenger experience and loyalty programme, Yo, which brings upgrades, VIP lounge access and deals with Melia Hotels and Air Europa. Crew are all trained in 360º functions from ticket sales to boarding, customer service to onboard safety and go through a four week customer service and onboard best practice training programme.

Pick your partners

The catering is supplied by Gate Gourmet on a fixed five-year contract. As part of the partnership, gategroup has trained all the onboard baristas with skills to deliver a high-end service. The Infinita and Singular Only YOU passengers also have access to individual work spaces and exclusive lounges created in partnership with Only YOU Hotels.