Skyscanner, Interreail and the future of European travel
SkyScanner recently announced that it would be opening up its platform to facilitate the purchase of train tickets for its UK customers. For anyone that has ever endured trying to buy a somewhat cheap train ticket through Virgin, or the abundance of other British train websites for that matter, this might sound like music to their ears. What’s more, though only accessible for iPhone users for the moment, the company plans to extend the access to android users soon and eventually to an international audience, according to Techcrunch.
The thinking behind the news is targeted at overcoming the hurdle facing UK airports that normally finds them located in the middle of nowhere, to the extent that if you wish to skirt around airport parking or taxi fares it will usually require a bus to a train, to probably another train before you even reach the long queues through airport security. By streamlining the process, Skyscanner appeals to an even broader British audience and establishes itself as a key contender in travel booking as a whole. In time this means that alongside those flight tickets to Amsterdam for thirty pounds, there might even be a train ticket from Gatwick to Manchester for somewhere along the same price.
There is another reality that comes into question regarding the ease of EU travel in the coming future. A whole other Pandora’s box of uncertainty, so to speak.
It’s just a matter of time before Brexit steps out of the peripheries of parliamentary ‘debates’ and into the reality of everyday British life. Whilst 20,000 European teenagers who, upon turning eighteen will receive a free Interrail pass allowing for free travel between EU Member countries, this will also signal an important time for technology companies that market specifically to travel.
The reality stretches further than what the head of the European Tour Operators’ Association (ETOA) suggested whilst speaking to UK Parliament. He exclaimed, ‘we are starting to see a borderless market in Europe for travel, and the UK will be left out’. Of course it’s true that it will most likely be business as usual in Europe whilst cheap flight operators such as Monarch, Easy Jet and RyanAir address the reality of new restrictions, and thus more expensive, less frequent flight routes. But does this also signal a gap in the market, or at least a window for new technology companies to step up to the mark of travel alternatives?
Well Czech startup Kiwi.com might be on the right lines at least. The Brno-based startup brings together over 700 airlines into a user-friendly search engine where travellers can compare and purchase tickets. The website possesses a unique selling point known as ‘Virtual Interlining’ which means that connecting flights, often with competing airlines, can then also be purchased with one click. As a result, the startup helps to pioneer new flight routes across the world. The company is now annually turning over €700 Million, so they must be doing something right.
Regardless of what updates face Europe, the desire to travel on the cheap is looking to always remain quite a universal one regardless of newly imposed borders and fees. Now is the call to capitalise on that.