Wanderu, a travel startup that’s like a Kayak.com but for bus and train tickets instead of flights, is today making its service available for the first time as a mobile application. Launching first on iOS, the new app allows travelers to quickly find, price out, and then book tickets to their preferred destination, optionally saving their personal information along the way as well as saving select routes as “favorites.”
The Boston-based startup, which first launched into beta in summer 2013, and last winter raised $5.6 million in Series A funding, has been scaling up at a fast pace. According to CEO Polina Raygorodskaya, the service has been growing over 400% in revenues quarter-over-quarter, and is now nearing the 5 million user mark.
40% of Wanderu’s users are repeat customers, and 13% are so-called “power users” – meaning those who have booked four or more tickets at different times.
In the new mobile application, travelers can opt to designate certain routes they travel often as a favorite, in order to speed up access to booking those tickets in the future. The app can also save your name, address and other account information to simplify the booking process. And when you arrive at the station, you can often just display the confirmation number or barcode directly from your smartphone’s screen, instead of having to print out a paper ticket. (If a printout is required, however, the app will note this.)
The company today has over 50 travel partners, including Greyhound, Megabus, Peter Pan Bus, Grupo Senda, BoltBus, Go Buses, Concord Coach Lines, New York Trailways, and many others, covering around 90% of ground travel in the U.S. and southern Canada. Wanderu is also expanding into Mexico this year, adding more train partners, and will even broaden its service to include things related to millennial-focused travel in general, not just ground transportation.
This includes offering up suggestions on places to stay and things to do in a given area, notes Raygorodskaya, which are features the user base has been requesting.
The CEO attributes much of Wanderu’s growth to the attraction the site has for the millennial demographic, who have a different approach to traveling than prior generations. These users are less likely than previous generations to have their own cars, and they make up 74% of bus travelers.
“We’re really the only place where millennials – which is who’s traveling by bus – can come and quickly book their trips,”Raygorodskaya says. “Our goal is to create a brand for millennials. Ground travel is just where we’re starting,” she adds.
Though the company had just raised a round of funding, it’s now getting a lot of inbound interest following its win at the MaiTai event in Necker Island, where Sir Richard Branson selected the startup as a favorite. “We had no intention of raising a round at this point,” says Raygorodskaya. “But it’s so tempting,” she says.
The Wanderu app is a free download here on iTunes. An Android version is in the works.