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Author's profile photo Senta Belay

STM Merci: Being relevant to the #traveler

STM Merci, a mobile app that went live mid of 2013, was a result of a co-innovation between STM and SAP. The application that has transformed how STM – Société transport de Montréal – the public transit company of Montréal is engaging with its customers.

In the International SAP Conference for Travel and Transportation to be held in Sinsheim, Germany on April 2/3, Pierre Bourbonniere, Chief Marketing officer of STM will take the stage on the second day and deliver the keynote speech and share how STM and SAP went about to create this unique experience.

So, what exactly is the STM Merci Mobile app? and the underlying enabler, the SAP Precision Marketing (SPM) solution?

For starts: A picture is worth a thousand words .. but then, a 2 minute video might even do more justice.

Now, With the video in mind… below a bit more info.

SAP Precision Marketing (SPM)

Historic Background:

SAP precision marketing is the culmination of project ‘Apollo’ that has been in the works for over 4 years at SAP which was a co-innovation project with our Retail and Travel industry customers to help end consumers at the point of decision.

Point of decision considers the right contextual state of the traveler – i.e., considering the where (location of the consumer), the when (the context of time of day), and how the combination of these 2 affects what a retailor can offer depending on the profile of the consumer (the why), and the what (the offers that are relevant).

You might ask – what has term ‘Precision Marketing’ got to-do with passenger travel industry, and the answer lies in a live use case. One of the highly praised deployments of this solution is actually in a public transit authority. The STM: Société transport de Montréal – the public transit company of Montréal.

‘The STM operates the fourth most heavily used urban mass transit system in North America, after the New York City Transit Authority, Toronto Transit Commission and the Mexico City Metro’

What is SAP precision marketing for a Passenger Travel & Public Transit company?

In short: it’s a mobile app (in the case of STM it is the STM Merci) that a transit / commuter traveler uses as a ‘transit companion mobile app’ – downloadable from iTunes (or Google Play). But to really make sure that this app works seamlessly to help the traveler, there are quite a bit of applications working in the background – all on SAP HANA Cloud.

Below a brief summary focusing on the way the three major players in a transit context; The commuter, The operator and The partners interact with the technology that makes this happen.

The end users / commuter perspective:

The end user will download an app. Register his/her profile as to the level of privacy that one seeks. There is even an ‘anonymous’ option. Another option, one can register by using their already existing smart card number (In the case of STM it’s was the opus card). With this in hand, a profile can be populated and updated with all the ‘lifestyle’ choices that one wants to receive – in and around the city one travels and commutes to each and every day.

And that is it. The rest is handled by the core – the SAP Precision Marketing solution.

The travel company’s perspective:

Now that the end user has ‘signed up’ for the service via the app, the rest of the work is done by the HANA based application.

What it does: a very powerful ‘consumer context and session management’ tool does the understanding of the 4 dimensions (where/when/what/why) and specifically pushes the needed offers to the traveler. Now, these offers are not spam! They are what the consumer has opted in for, and registered in his profile, with the amount of privacy that has been chosen.

‘E.g. a traveler has a usual trip to a downtown area, where the traveler has opted in to get new movies in town, specifically during the evening hours – the consumer context does all the awareness of the end travelers ‘context’ and pushes perhaps, the ‘Oscars night live’ to be held in Cinema ‘XYZ’ at address ‘abc’ near the downtown area of his last transit stop. This can be further integrated into the transit providers route planning solution – where the ‘to go from station to cinema’ – a route option is provided.

Now how does all this come to the end consumer?

Precision marketing has what we call – the shopping services (and device services API’s), where all the options will be made available and pushed to the consumers’ mobile app via the session manager. But to push this, we need to have all the list of available ‘products’ or ‘services’ that exist as a catalogue in the HANA database, and use a clever matching of what to push, and when – one of the core futures of the solution. For this we have the marketing engine. The marketing engine does all the computing required to push the right product or service (aka – the offer) to the right consumer. You can think of this as a real time offer management engine.

The partner’s point of view

Now with all the options that could be pushed to the end traveler using the marketing engine in conjunction with the shopping service, there should be a list of ‘what’ to offer. Here comes another pillar of the solution which is the partner services and related partner portal.

What this does, is to provide a link to all participating partners – a platform where they can manage their products and services. They have access to continually enhance their catalogues and stores and provide ‘campaigns’ for their offers  that they want to position – with this availability the marketing engine takes over to do the ‘engineering’- or real time matching of such offers to the travelers context and pushes the once that are only relevant.

The partners (cinemas, stores, restaurant, etc…), basically have accesses to a portal where they manage the set of products and service that they have and what they want to offer at a given time.

What is the value proposition?

The passenger travel operator knows what the traveler wants (with the right privacy and permission levels); also the operator has a transactional relation with the traveler (the ticketing, smart card). With this at hand, and extended relationship with the ecosystem (services and products providers along the route) the operator can tailor a highly personalized loyalty program.

Who will this benefit?

Though the precision marketing solution was created with multiple industries in mind, primarily retail and consumer products, the travel and transportation industry has a unique advantage to utilize the solution.

With urbanization in rapid growth globally (60% of world population in urban metropolis’ by 2020!, and currently more than half the world living in urban areas), and a major part of the population depending on public transit for their daily commuter needs, literally all public transit companies globally that service major metropolitan areas can benefit from SPM.

By the nature of commute, transit travelers are captive customers: that is, they need to use the transit service to/from their destinations – and have time at hand while in transit. A perfect opportunity to engage with them with the right context – Especially with the ubiquitous use of mobile devices; and more importantly though precision marketing is more than just a mobile app – it indeed is the channel that the end user will use. (If you recently did use a transit mode, just check around you and see how many people are glued to their mobile app! – it has replaced the newspapers.).

Building a unique loyalty program, that pulls in the ‘mom and pop’ stores as well as big name retailers and service providers, from along the travel path to the commuter (millions in some transit company cases), is what the precision marketing solution does.

Due to such an innovate and powerful story that STM achieved with help from SAP and Precision marketing, the passenger travel company has the opportunity to get even closer to its customers.

As STM Chief Marketing Officer stated:

“(STM Merci)… what it is, is truly a program whereby on-the-go,  we are able to talk to our customers, we will then send them some offers, and also give them information about their travel, and therefore be relevant to them”

To hear more from STM and SAP, do join us at the upcoming International SAP conference for Travel and Transportation in Rhein-Neckar-Arena Sinsheim, Germany on April 02-03/2014.


And if you are on twitter – do reach out to us @SAPTravel

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