Booking a long-distance journey online can be a fragmented affair. Travel operators like to keep it that way: they want to keep control over offers and pricing, so they steer customers to book directly on their websites. But, as two Berlin-based startups show, change is underway.
A new generation of heavily algorithm-driven travel site promises to make it much easier to compare different types and combinations of transport type, from air to rail to bus, and perhaps even to book multimodal journeys through a unified portal.
GoEuro’s idea is this: one search will show you your travel options between all European cities, towns and villages, including air, rail, bus and car rental. Customers can then choose which combination of these transport modes suits them best, based on criteria including price, convenience and total travel time. A closed beta should launch in a few weeks’ time and, all going well, the full service will open up a few weeks after that.
Waymate intends to allow the same kind of user criteria as GoEuro will allow. Now, there are some multimodal transport booking sites out there, but they tend to come from the transport firms themselves, particularly the rail operators, making their neutrality doubtful. The big issue is getting access to all the necessary players as a neutral party. In Waymate’s case, that was only made possible by winning an EU Smart Mobility Challenge last year.
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