European multi-mode travel gets hotter as GoEuro goes public
GoEuro joins a growing number of startups vying for attention in Europe’s online multi-modal transport segment.
The company, which emerges from private beta today, was inspired by the difficulty of planning a four-month trip around Europe online.
Seed funding of $4 million led by Battery Ventures and HP Ventures was secured back in February.
The 14-strong team is led by CEO Naren Shaam, CTO Patrick Schweizer, COO Malte Cherdron and acting CMO Tim Claydon.
GoEuro sees massive opportunity as more and more train and bus sales go online – for example according to Shaam, Germany only deregulated long-haul bus travel this year and new companies are springing up across the country as a result.
“Our strength is bringing more and more ground transportation online.”
GoEuro is aware there are a number of other companies attempting to offer similar solutions – but in some cases from different angles.
“Some focus more on building the core technology and then the commercialisation of their efforts, whereas we believe in taking a balanced approach between innovative technology and a clear path to monetization. We’re going to stay focused on our goals and deliver a great customer experience at the same time as providing value to our travel partners.”
The startup does not charge booking fees so revenue is via revenue sharing agreements with travel partners on ticket sales.
Describe what your start-up does, what problem it solves (differently to what is already out there) and for whom?
GoEuro is a multi-mode travel search website that allows users to compare and combine air, rail and bus transport across Europe. Our platform allows travellers to search to and from any location in Europe, including small towns and villages – not just airports.
We provide users with detailed and specific journey plans, finding the best options for different modes of transportation based on both total travel time and price – they then book directly with our travel partners.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Currently travellers have to visit numerous different websites, not only to get information about how to piece together their entire journey, but also to find competitive offers and to be able to book.
We’re very different – we allow users to enter their starting point (city, town or even village), and their specific destination, like a beach resort, the location of remote music festival or a famous tourist town like Heidelberg, Germany. We then show multiple solutions for air, rail and bus so they can view and compare different transportation options, allowing them to save both time and money.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
We’ll be utilizing SEO and SEM, as well as social media platforms – but for now we’ll take all the positive PR we can get!
How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?
Actually we’ve been able to stick very close to the original concept. We’ve really focused on talking about our vision to potential travel partners – particularly the train and bus operators – and making sure we deliver a solution that they feel is going to be of significant value. There’s a massive upside for both us and them in being able to increase their level of visibility in online travel search.
Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?
We hope to see travel operators across all modes of transport on a level-playing field in terms of online journey planning and booking across Europe. And of course for GoEuro to be a major player in this shift.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
We are all programmed right now to enter the closest cities where we know there are airports when searching for travel online. We think travel search needs and will evolve away from this existing focus on airports and airlines to a more natural behaviour of entering where you actually plan to start your journey and your final destination. Essentially, we are selling destinations – not airports.
By combining localized search algorithms and increased visibility of rail and bus operators online, we’re really excited in building GoEuro into a leader in multi-mode travel search.
Door-to-door, end-to-end, seamless – it doesn’t really matter what we call it, there is a need for it. Or, at very least, a need to improve the current experience which is multiple websites open while you try and do-it-yourself to tie up different parts of a trip.
GoEuro is one of a number of startups looking to tackle the complexities – Rome2Rio (TLabs here) and Wanderio (TLabs here) have also entered the market and there’s RouteRank too. And, French rail operator SNCF has had its own multi-mode effort, MyTripset, in beta since last June.
As Shaam says there is huge potential and not just for the B2C market, for the players that manage to crack this in terms of getting the suppliers on board and making it easy to search and book, there must be opportunities in terms of white label solutions to existing online travel agencies as well as B2B partnerships in the corporate market.
The fact that GoEuro managed to seal funding of $4m goes some way to validating the model and market potential.
A recent Amadeus report predicted a 21% increase in European long-distance rail passengers by 2020 so clearly people want to join up the dots and with deregulation the opportunities do seem to be increasing.
Will we get to a single ticket for a journey from Spain to Germany using trains and buses? Who knows but at least the foundations are being laid.
Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.
In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.
Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.