train cookies with cup of tea and sachet envelopes

All Aboard! Sloane Tea Aboard VIA Rail

With the new year in full swing, we can’t help but reflect on the opportunities we’ve been given and the relationships we are most grateful for. The past few years have been very good to us here at Sloane Tea and with the launch of our new products, the expansion of our team and the growth of our many offerings, we think it’s fair to say we’ve had our hands full!  All that hard work has led to so many partnerships that we’re so proud of, but with Canada’s 150th anniversary on the horizon, one in particular stands out - it’s been just over a year since we came aboard national travel provider, VIA Rail!

Why is VIA Rail so near and dear to us? Here’s a bit of history surrounding this Canadian institution:  VIA first became a travel solution for Canadians in 1978. VIA Rail Canada breathed new life into the country's railways by becoming its first national passenger rail company. Throughout its history, VIA has succeeded in building an outstanding company known around the world for its stellar customer service.

Now operating throughout 8 provinces, VIA Rail has solidified itself as Canada’s choice travel partner, offering a comfortable space to ease into during the journey. In a world where everything moves so very fast, it’s the ideal way to relax, take in the scenery, and truly steep yourself in the moment. VIA Rail inspires its patrons to sit back and enjoy the ride, reveling in every step toward the destination and this is also what we aim to do with every cup of Sloane Tea.

Our bedrock is that of savouring the moment. With every flavour intentioned and every fragrance provoking, we work diligently towards making every cup a journey of the senses, awakening you throughout, and always leaving you a little bit better than you came. Long before Sloane Tea, this was the ethos VIA Rail prided itself on. One of taking in the rolling fields of the prairies and the natural shape of the lakeshore, accepting every bend for what it is and appreciating the curves in the road as the salt of life. Founded in innovation and sustained by passion, this is what makes Sloane and VIA Rail such great partners. It is with that sentiment that we raise our tea cups in recognition of VIA Rail’s 40th anniversary coming up next year and in celebration of our over one year on board.

We’ve got an exciting announcement with VIA Rail coming soon to celebrate a BIG birthday, but in the meantime we’re pleased to share an exclusive interview with Dean Rockhead, the Senior Manager of Product Service and Design at VIA Rail. Dean’s role is to determine and establish what the client expectations are and to ensure that those expectations are met.

Via Rail train driving through mountain landscape

How important is it to offer local and Canadian products to VIA Rail travellers? //

 It's extremely important. Sloane teas are something that in this category (hot beverages) really differentiate us. With tea it's a lot more personal and it's in the hands of the clients. We go out of our way to support Canadian products on VIA. It's critical for us and it's my team's drive to do that. We wanted something recognizable and niche.

When selecting a tea to be served on VIA Rail, were you looking for a small artisanal company? //

Yes. we were looking for something that got us away from the everyday tea because within the everyday tea you (Sloane) have flavour profiles that you cover, but you also have flavour profiles that are different. It's great to say that you have a mint tea but it's even greater that you have a Marrakesh Mint tea. We are offering an affordable luxury- a touch of class, but it's not breaking the bank.

Did you select Sloane Tea to be served on VIA because you felt we were brand aligned? //

 I thought we were brand aligned because we are not always the obvious choice, but we want to become the obvious choice. Our passengers are demanding in their expectations of agreeing to their mode of transport. Recyclable packaging, biodegradable tea bags and the renewable elements of Sloane Tea are aligned with VIA's philosophy and our customers' to have less of a footprint on the environment.

Would you consider those who ride with VIA to be discerning consumers? //

 Yes, definitely. As a result we were looking for a product that met our expectations of being a notch above the average, but we also wanted a product that was adaptable to our various product streams- everything from the prestige class to the economy travel.

 How do you ensure a special personal experience on board? //

One thing that VIA is known for is it's exemplary customer service. When you have great customer service it is expected that you are going to align yourself with companies that have the same level of expectation of their product. There is an alignment there of how focused Sloane is on their product and how focused we are on our product.

 It's important in any kind of marketing is giving people control. The only way to give them that sense is to give them options. One thing that I really liked in your packaging is that you had several options for me to pick from so I knew that my market wouldn't be stuck with a choice of 3 or 4. My market which I respect would have a host of choices. Tea happens to be one of those things where you can develop many different flavour profiles. The breadth of your offering answers the needs of the client.

people eating lunch on train looking out windowtrain corridor and window viewtrain table setting with window view

A special thanks to Dean, and the entire VIA team. A toast to the journey! May it warm us for the destination ahead.