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Success and failure in the snow
How two brands performed under stressful conditions…

On 18 December more than 2,000 people were trapped in the Channel Tunnel after five Eurostar trains broke down due to cold weather. Some passengers were evacuated but many faced what was described as a “complete nightmare” with up to 15 uncomfortable hours stuck without access to food, water and toilet facilities on the stricken trains. When the snow hit the trains the Eurostar brand promise of ‘The joy of the journey' was found lacking. Customers complained of no information, food and drinks were not distributed and little in the way of crisis management seems to have materialised. Mechanical failures aside,nobody in a position of authority at Eurostar HQ or on the trains themselves recognised what was happening in relation to their brand.

Four days later much of England was hit by more snow chaos. Falling mid-afternoon, the snow came down thick and fast causing travel chaos. An area badly affected was High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. So much so that over 100 people found themselves stranded at the John Lewis department store on the outskirts of the town. Instead of taking the simple, understandable decision of closing the store and turning out the customers and staff to struggle home on their own, the decision was made to open the store as a makeshift ‘hotel’. The quick-thinking staff at John Lewis had turned a difficult situation into a brilliant demonstration of what the John Lewis brand is and how it is very much ‘lived’ by its staff.

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