Zipabout - partnering retail to put public transport at the heart of the economic recovery

We worked with Eagle Eye, Pret and Oxford Bus to build a tool to support the economic recovery of the high street and the public transport sector. Light-touch and ready to go on any channel, we think this can play a big part in putting public transport at the heart of the recovery


Zipabout have long believed that every stakeholder in a journey – from passenger and operator to local authority – can only benefit from joining things up. That’s why we’ve built what we’ve built, and why our personalisation technology is so important; we think the key to sustainable transport is balancing everybody’s needs.

Long before Covid, we developed technology to predict and influence crowding on rail and bus services so we could help answer familiar questions - how could we spread the peak, or encourage more off-peak travel? How could we deliver REAL demand-responsive transport, or help anxious travellers avoid stressful travel choices?

We believe this approach can be extended even further , integrating the national and independent retailers of our high-streets, towns and villages so we can all pull together to support the economic recovery. We think we can place public transport at the heart of that recovery, from big cities to rural hamlets, so we developed a pilot programme with Oxford Bus, Eagle Eye and Pret A Manger, all delivered through the bus information service provided by Oxfordshire County Council, Oxontime.

Oxford Bus and Pret

The initial technical trial was simple – could we deliver a reward to passengers, at exactly the right time and place, for using a particular bus service? And could we do it without the need for dedicated apps, complicated signups or the exchange of any personal data?

Working with Eagle Eye team and their AIR digital marketing platform, we were able to extend our unique personalised messaging platform to deliver secure digital vouchers directly within the existing Messenger-based Oxontime Connect service. These simple QR code vouchers could be easily scanned at the till in exchange for any chosen retail offer.

The result was a simple but effective pilot that delivered a free cup of coffee (or any barista made drink!) at the end of your journey as a reward for choosing a specific service. No signup, no spam, no hassle – just a thank you and a digital voucher for your nearest Pret sent straight to your phone. Access to Oxontime couldn’t be easier – simply scanning the QR code at the busstop is enough to get you realtime bus information delivered via Messenger.

We are now running wider trials so that we can be ready for the relaxation of restrictions and ready to support the transport operators and local authorities that will be under pressure to get things moving again. The opportunities and uses are almost limitless, as we have the ability to match realtime conditions with operator needs and retailer requirements to power sophisticated loyalty programmes or simple rewards to encourage behavioural change.

Messenger allows partners to build engaging experiences to connect with customers, without the expense of building, marketing and maintaining a separate app. As a trusted, innovative partner on our platform, Zipabout understand this benefit and have built a solution to connect retailers with transport operators across the UK. We’re impressed with the success they’ve achieved so far and support their efforts to scale their solution further within the UK and beyond.”

Ali Parr, Director of Platform Partnerships for EMEA, Facebook

We’re delighted to have been part of this trial. When restrictions are lifted, not only will the programme support the safe operation of public transport by providing unique personalised information to travellers, it will also encourage people back onto public transport so keeping our county moving.

Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Innovation at Oxfordshire County Council

Get in touch

 We're keen to talk to:

  • Brands who would be interested in supporting incentivisation trials
  • Transport Operators interested in developing dynamic reward and loyalty programmes
  • Local authorities keen to influence behavioural change when the recovery begins