Since debuting its revamped website to connect bus travelers with local schedules and ticket prices late last year, Montreal, QC-based Busbud now includes information on more than 10,000 bus routes in 60 countries. It also supports 10 languages and offers booking services in 15 currencies. Today, the startup announced the launch of its iPhone app to help travelers look up bus information on the go, an app it built after discovering that 30 percent of its traffic was coming from mobile with more than 50 percent of visitors were searching, planning, and booking bus tickets the day of their travel.
“When we started doing bookings they were not last-minute, but many were the same day. You have a lot of people who are going to the bus station, out in the street or in their car, and wanting to find out information about a route,” said co-founder Louis-Phillippe Maurice in an interview with BetaKit. “We realized that it was just a planning thing…for airlines you might book ahead like two weeks or a month or two months in advance, whereas for bus travel you want something much more immediate. So it made sense to have a mobile complement for the website that would take care of more immediate booking and information requests.”
The company also recently began to roll out its monetization strategy, working with bus companies to help them sell more tickets while taking a percentage of each sale they drive. It partnered with Quebec’s intercity bus service Orleans Express, and has had success targeting students with discounted offers, so much so that the bus company is working exclusively with Busbud based on the pilot partnership. It charges each partner based on a number of variables like transaction cost for each check out as it relates to the countries they work in, and the company only charges bus companies when they drive ticket sales.
When we last covered Busbud we highlighted Pombai, an Asian-specific competitor also focused on ground travel. Since then a handful of U.S. focused startups have emerged, including Wanderu, and BusTripping, which is still in beta. However, in response to the threat of potential competitors, Maurice said that although there are companies that focus on one country or region, Busbud’s international focus, along with its partnerships with bus companies around the world, are what will help it differentiate in the long run.
The company is planning to launch an Android app down the road, but its current focus remains on growing its network of global partners to offer its users the ability to book tickets on its platform. Its top three markets to date are North America, South America (with 30-40 percent of its users based in Brazil), and Europe. With intercity bus services growing at 7.5 percent in the past year in North America alone, sites like Busbud are out to prove that ground travel deserves just as much attention as the air travel industry.