The majority of the world’s long-distance trips are done by bus, but the market has remained stubbornly offline in most countries. Yet a handful of companies are dragging the sector, kicking and screaming, online.
New players are helping operators either sell tickets to international travelers, run their businesses more efficiently with software, or both. Activity has increased recently, and here are the highlights:
Competition from digital-first, well-funded bus operators such as FlixBus, BlaBlaCar, and Buser has prompted many traditional bus companies to think more seriously about digital innovation.
Ferries are also part of the business model. At Bookaway Group, for example, about 30 percent of sales are for ferries.
The various technology vendors are taking different approaches.
While there will always be more so-called “AvGeeks” obsessing over trains than social media fans of intercity buses, the reality is that for most of the world intercity bus is the most practical and flexible form of long-haul travel.
Buses may become only more important as travelers seek more sustainable ways of traveling than flying. Expect more innovation in this segment.