Similar to SilverRail, the startup that is building a platform to consolidate passenger rail ticket booking and search across Europe and beyond, newly-launched Distribusion wants to make it as easy for travel companies to sell ‘intercity’ bus tickets as it is to sell flights.
The problem is familiar: As it stands, the reservation systems of the various bus travel providers are disparate, meaning that, in order for travel agencies (including OTAs) to sell intercity bus tickets, they have to connect to and maintain multiple reservation systems. That is obviously quite a heavy overload and costly to boot.
To solve this, the Berlin-based travel-tech startup offers what it calls a “one-stop solution” via its own API, white label solution or widget that enables travel companies (and their customers) to interface with a plethora of intercity bus products from a single source.
This obviously enables those travel retailers to offer bus tickets from multiple providers at a much reduced technical cost, while the uplift for bus operators is that they should see bus ticket booking and sales being offered in many more places online.
(Interestingly, another startup wanting to consolidate bus travel booking, but with a consumer-facing offering rather than one targeting B2B, is Busbud. The company describes itself as ‘Kayak for intercity bus travel’, and last year closed a $9 million Series A funding round.)
To that end, Distribusion tells me it’s already collaborating with more than 30 bus operators — its database covers intercity bus content from 14 European countries, with plans to expand to at least ten more countries by the summer — and is providing standardized bus content for “dozens of travel websites”.
The startup’s launch timing appears to be good too. In 2013 its home country of Germany saw the long distance transportation market “liberalised”, opening it up so that independent bus operators are allowed to offer different kinds of bus connections over 50km, thus increasing the convenience and viability of intercity bus travel as a whole. Since then, Distribution says the local market has outperformed expectations and is now estimated to be worth close to €300 million.