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Risk assessment for a transport operator in Greater China

Client profile

The client is an international transport operator headquartered in Greater China.


Railway diversion services like the Hong Kong Rail Link (XRL) and the Chinese High-Speed Railway (HSR) connecting different cities in China have posed risks and resulted in a decline in passenger traffic. The client’s objective was to analyze the potential impacts of diversion XRL and HSR that would bring to them. These underlying impacts can be broken down into three questions:


  • To what extent will the XRL steal market share from the client?
  • What are the choice rationales for choosing XRL over other transport methods, and what are the choice rationales for choosing another operator over our client?
  • How can our client improve its attractiveness?

Research process & methodology

Each research question includes two segments of the mainland travel market:

  • Client’s headquarter as the final destination
  • Client’s headquarter as an intermediate station

The research was constructed in four stages.

To gain an understanding of the micro-environment of the ten targeted mainland cities, we applied multiple methods consisting of desk research, big data analysis, social listening, and in-depth interviews. We uncovered insights on:

  • Consumer demographics
  • Socio-economic classifications
  • Preferred outbound travel destinations
  • Travel modes
  • Travelers’ touchpoints
  • The client and its competitors’ reputation and operation
  • XRL’s impacts on each city


Data collected from this stage was designed into a questionnaire for the following stage.

We led focus group discussions with frequent travelers in four representative cities of South China to identify common recurring travel patterns, travel modes, touch-points, consumer journeys, and preferred destinations.


We summarized key findings and used them to design and adapt our online survey questionnaire for the next stages. Most importantly, it allowed us to eliminate less important criteria which could affect the survey results.

Based on an online survey of consumers in the ten target cities, we identified and quantified travel patterns, travel modes, touchpoints, consumer journeys, and preferred outbound destinations. The data provided the foundation for actionable recommendations to the client on how to better target Chinese travelers.

Six months after the first survey and one year since the commencement of the XRL,  we ran another survey in the ten mainland cities to identify similarities and differences in travel patterns based on the season. The data provided further actional recommendations to the client on how to better target relevant Chinese travelers.


After each stage of research, we delivered a report with key insights, and at the conclusion of all the research and analysis, we presented the client with key findings in:

  • Passenger profiles, behaviors, and motivations of those who mainly use XRL and who remain loyal to our client
  • Influence of XRL on each of the ten targeted cities
  • The impact of XRL on the client’s headquarters divided into threat and opportunity


These findings served as the foundation for our six major recommendations on how to capitalize on the XRL to gain more traffic, what other transport operators can do to build relationships, and what strategic new routes to open.