Service stations and Services

Transport Focus has this week released a survey of motorway service users; the results being resoundingly positive (average 92% satisfaction and 25% mood uplift following a visit). It is perhaps ironic in our emerging world of experiential service-led retail, that service stations are one of the few assets to benefit from an official experience ranking. This is particularly so when one considers that dwell time is low (c. 20 minutes), and consumer choice among competing alternatives is limited (technically choice exists, but try telling that to someone on the back seat who urgently needs a pee). The largest cause of dissatisfaction was value for money on F&B, but this (like airports) is an enviable market with regulated supply and captive demand, and in the same way that fuel costs more under these conditions, so does food. The positive report on Westmorland owned stations (family run, farm shop, own brand restaurant) is perhaps suggestive of the wider opportunity for a higher value, boutique offering; users reporting greater intention to deliberately plan a stop at these services.