The rise of the multi-modal traveller and a new breed of metasearch

With rising traveller numbers and types of transport, fuelling increasingly adventurous travel plans, there is everything to play for

In the past few years a number of players have entered the multi-modal fray. Among those the French firms Kelbillet, Kenavo and Simpki, Italy’s Wanderio and Australia’s Rome2Rio.

Even bigger names like Skyscanner are upping their multimodal game. Last year, the company took yet another step in this direction, says Nikhil Gupta, Skyscanner director of hotels and car hire, and launched both airport transfers and camper van offerings in a number markets.

While the business models may vary slightly, the march is clear: to offer a service that compares a range of possible transport (and even accommodation) options based on, among other things, journey times and price.

It’s a model that is proving successful and profitable for Kelbillet which launched (the name chosen because it rolls easily off the tongue in a number of European languages - and it was available) in January last year to capture a wider share of the fast-growing European market. Today the firm has a presence in France, the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain, and has secured real-time inventory from over 500 partners including airline, train, coach and ride-sharing firms. Before launching Gopili, Kelbillet already had 3m monthly visitors but today that figure stands at 3.5m.

According to Gopili CEO Yann Raoul, the big plus for partners is the possibility they have to acquire new customers, and high conversion rates.

Since travellers are often price driven, somebody that usually travels by train may, for example, elect a ride-sharing option because it’s cheaper. Ride-sharing firms like Blablacar, which recently acquired and Autohop to cement its position in Europe, claim to be 79% cheaper than an off-peak rail fare.

Ride-sharing, and the rise of budget accommodation, have helped the boom in city trips, which according to an ITB World Travel Trends 2014/15 report have soared by 50% over a five-year period to reach a 20% market share. Gopili’s user data - it uses tools like Google Analytics and Flurry - backs this up. Visitors coming to the site tend to fall within the 25-45 year age range (60% are women!) and are generally looking for trips either within a 100-km radius to visit family and friends, or to a new city.

Mobile growth

Another trend of 2015, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, is its growth in mobile users. Over half of Kelbillet’s traffic comes from mobile devices, and in 2015 mobile usage of the firm’s websites grew by 30%.

Hence the recent in-house development and launch of a dedicated Gopili app, which Raoul says many users were asking for.


Available for both iOS and Android users, the app is multilingual, multi-market and multi-branded; the same technology was used for both brands (KelBillet and Gopili).

Creating an intuitive, user friendly app able to compare prices and journey times across multiple destinations was a priority for the firm. So prior to launching the app, users were invited to five test sessions and asked for feedback at the different stages of development.

“This provided invaluable insights in developing an easy-to-use app,” says Raoul.

Although it’s too early to give an indication of performance, Gopili is measurements include: number of downloads, users, returning visitors as well as reviews.

The app is available for both iOS and Android users and is deploying different technology including geolocation and push notifications. New features are expected in the coming year.

So far, Gopili’s investment has been €2m (including in the new app), financed partly by internal funds but also from institutions including Bpifrance & CIC Enterprises. Raoul says an IPO is not on the cards. But in a competitive space, however, we have to wonder if some consolidation could be on the cards.

Join us in London for TDS Europe (April 19-20) to hear more from Blablacar, Skyscanner and numerous other high-profile travel brands

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