Nightclubbing or a Great Scenic Journey? By Noah Warner

Pubs, clubs and Palace

Xbox or extra sessions at the Gym, a night out clubbing or watching Crystal Palace?

Time is precious especially when you’re 18 years old like me and until taking on responsibility for sales and marketing at Great Scenic Journeys, I confess a getaway on a bus or train to take in the view and check out the attractions at the end of the journey, maybe tea and scones as a treat, wouldn’t have featured high on my list of fun pursuits.

I’ll admit, I got it wrong

At first, I was sceptical – I mean, unless you’re as old as my parents, surely you wouldn’t really want to get on a bus for fun. I was lucky enough to be able to walk to school and I didn’t envy those in their uniform standing outside my house in the freezing cold waiting for their bus every morning. But, then I realised, it’s not really about a bus or train or coach or ferry, or whatever piece of metal encloses those travelling – it’s about the experience. And let’s face it, this isn’t too shabby really….

A taste of the Orient

At Great Scenic Journeys, we work with transport operators to sell ‘experiences’ and we help create ‘reasons to travel’. We also spend time with tourist attractions, hoteliers and others’ in communities and we spread the gospel about the wonderful transport route that pulls up on their doorstep. We might even do a deal with them so that those coming by public transport get a discount on entry. We’ve gone global too with the dizzy heights of 4 routes in Hong Kong joining our collection, so here’s hoping for a trip out there soon….

Hong Kong Archives – Great Scenic Journeys

Of course, there are some transport routes where the journey, in some respects, should ‘sell itself’ – those  open-top bus routes on top off cliffs, looking out to sea under blue sky and bright sunshine – I mean, if you can’t sell those, then what hope is there? Yes, they pretty well can sell, but some need a bit of a  makeover to make the product the true tourism experience that it really is competing with – the one that charges the earth and is all spin and gloss, but ultimately can disappoint. One of my favourite routes though is the Atlantic Coaster, which I checked out when I went to Boardmasters with my mates in August. Atlantic Coaster – Great Scenic Journeys

Two other great routes are the Bright Bus tours of Edinburgh, where the commentary is full of interesting facts and entertainment and the drivers are really welcoming!  Bright Bus Edinburgh City Tour – Great Scenic Journeys Bright Bus Edinburgh Britannia Tour – Great Scenic Journeys

Wonderful Warrington!

There are other routes, where a bit of brand identity, something that brings the journey to life, a narrative telling the tale of the heritage of the route, is a vital step towards making the experience a bit more compelling. Some routes might not seem ‘Wow Factor’ in terms of their scenery – but our job is to unlock some of those hidden gem places to go and see on the journey and the quirky, sometimes undersold scenery. It’s not all about lakes, mountains, cliffs and beaches! I made a trip to Warrington on the Cat 9 and 5 services and a decent Friday night out I had and enjoyable trip to the market the next morning before catching the Cat 5 to Altrincham and a short hop on the tram to see Crystal Palace win at Manchester United!

What’s not to like?

Previously, I’d only thought that bus fanatics would want to travel ‘just for the fun of it’, but having seen the scenery, enjoyed the customer service and managed to do a few snaps that have gone viral and improved my credibility, I have seen the potential.

There’s one amazing experience after another to be enjoyed across the UK, Eire and beyond…

View of green mountain landscape at the Brecon Beacons National Park

More style please!

More can be done, though to get young folk on-board. It surprises me how few transport companies are on Instagram, to post video footage or to grapple with TikTok.

I think the most important factor of all though to encourage younger people to travel on buses is to improve their design. Leather seats, fancy tables, LED lighting and high levels of cleanliness are vital. From my experiences, these are elements that most smaller coach operators do excellently. At the moment, some of the buses in the UK are, to put it honestly, a bit depressing. Not many people want to be sat in a dirty old bus, no matter how great the views are.

A magnet to attractions

Promoting destinations and attractions would also be good and we want transport operators to get out and engage with us more, which is something we do at Great Scenic Journeys with our customer and non-user insight surveys.

We’re also busy people, but we also quite often want ‘things to do’ – there’s only so much dance-floor action we can take. We also want it cheaply, we’ll take up any offer providing it gives us a quid or two off entry!

The simple life

Simplicity is also important. We’re the ‘instant gratification’ generation and we can’t waste time navigating your clunky websites or even planning what to do and where to go. We want itineraries that mean we have it on a plate. I’m sorry if this sounds lazy, but it’s a fact.

So, what am I working on at Great Scenic Journeys? Well, as well as signing up very shortly our 200th route as part of the Great Scenic Journeys collection, my colleagues and I are working on a QR code that will be available on display on buses and trains, showcasing the scenery on the journey, as well as the heritage and interesting features on the route, places to visit and attractions as well as a very easy to use Customer Satisfaction Survey so we can help the transport operators be continually in touch with the reflections of their customers as they travel. We’ll help analyse and feed back the results alongside the Customer Experience Reviews we undertake on each route.

I’m also spending time with our growing team of field marketers, in and out of communities regaling the benefits of their local transport routes so they can spread the word to their visitors.

In addition, I manage our partnership with the fabulous walking App provider Go Jauntly. Almost every route in our collection is accompanied by a specially created walk. Young and old, everyone benefits from the great outdoors and there’s some great walks to be combined with a trip on a bus or train.

The Summer may be over, but the hard work has just begun. There’s routes to be reviewed and plans to be made for the new season as well as some lovely routes running all year round. Who said it wasn’t fashionable to get on-board a scenic bus or rail route?

If you’d like your route to join the Great Scenic Journeys collection and benefit from our many services, drop me an email at