GoEuro, the multimodal site, receives millions more in investment

Today GoEuro, a Berlin-based metasearch site, said it has received several million dollars in funding from Lakestar, an investment group, which will take a minority share of equity.

GoEuro declined to disclose the amount. The funding comes only 10 months after the startup received a first seed round of more than $4 million.

The company, which came out of private beta last May, said it will enter four more European countries in 2014. Up until now, it has been in Germany, the UK, and Spain. It will launch a mobile product, too.

The website aspires to combine metasearch for airfare with city-to-city pricing for rail tickets, inter-city coach, and eventually rental cars, in one search. Few other sites include bookable rail and coach tickets and present them in results side-by-side with airfares.

The company has signed agreements with nine European rail and bus providers, including Renfe in Spain and Deutsche Bahn in Germany. Yet many other operators are missing, such as France’s mighty SNCF.

CEO Naren Shaam told Tnooz by phone that he has increased headcount from 14 to 40, and “a lot of those are full-time employees.” He’ll only be hiring for a few more technology positions in the upcoming year. He said:

In the airline industry, metasearch works fairly well because the majority of airline websites are good enough for consumers to use to transact. But the weakest link in rail and coach metasearch is the booking site, and that’s where we might add value.

We might start doing booking on behalf of these small companies that don’t have the expertise to handle transactions online.

It’s definitely not confirmed we will become a full service OTA in certain segments, but it’s something we’re considering to plug gaps.

A ground transportation distribution system

Shaam said his startup is capital intensive.

It takes a large amount of resources to bring the separate data feeds that are in different formats together. We give precise schedules, prices, and bookable inventory. Routing can just be done with technical guys with no access to real-time information. We’re taking on a more difficult task.

There’s no airline GDS equivalent for inter-city rail and coach. So we have to invent the standards, right down to deciding codes for city names when different systems use different codes. There’s no IATA or major GDS for European ground transportation.

The product cycle for adding “geocoding mapping partner integration” takes at least three months, he said.

“We’re still on the way, and still have a long way to go. But we’ve made fantastic progress to date in partnerships. Deutsche Bahn, for instance, hasn’t just provided us with real-time data, but their team has actively worked with us to find ways of improving business for both us and them.”

Klaus Hommels, partner at Lakestar, gave this statement:

“When I first met the GoEuro team, I was amazed at their ability to build relationships with large organisations that historically have not given out proprietary information. By building these relationships, they are breaking down a huge barrier to entry and making themselves the market leader by quite a distance.”

That said, potential rival services do exist, such as Rome2Rio, Wanderio, RouteRank, and MyTripset.

Consumer education

Some consumers are thrown by the label “multi-modal,” thinking that means that the sites only sell tickets that mix forms of transportation (such as air plus train). GoEuro and similar sites merely show rail options next to air in a comparison of schedules. But that’s not easily explained in a marketing soundbite.

Another consumer education issue is that users intending to visit a non-airport location have generally been trained to type in the code of the nearest large airport. But for rail or coach, you want the user to be more specific about their destination town or village.

Getting people to open up to what Shaam calls “natural location search” will also require some adjusting of user interfaces. Over time, a traveler who wants to arrive at, say, Heidelberg, will not type Frankfurt Airport but will instead type Heidelberg.

In related news, GoEuro said it has also received a smaller investment came from Charles Petruccelli, former president of global business travel for American Express.

The site reports 1.8 million unique visitors a month on average. For more, check out the Tnooz profile of GoEuro.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.

 

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  1. Pascal Bordat

    Great article. This is truly a great market with a huge potential.
    Just missing out on the existing player which, although only in France at this stage, actually dominates that category in terms of traction, revenues, and community: KelBillet.com

     
 
 

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