A notable development for European multimodal travel planning platform GoEuro which has finally signed France’s national rail carrier, SNCF — with co-founder Naren Shaam dubbing this a “major milestone” for the startup still fresh from a $45M Series B funding round last December, led by Goldman Sachs.
France is a key piece of the puzzle for European travel planning platforms, not least because it’s such an important tourist market but also as a result of its geographical position in Western Europe which means many train routes pass through the country to connect to other key destinations in the region.
GoEuro’s platform was previously able to offer some French train services but that’s now greatly increased with the national carrier on board.
“Before we used to serve some destinations in France where international trains (like Eurostar or Deutschebahn) arrived, but with SNCF we have coverage of rail across all of France, every train station, town and location,” notes Shaam.
“We also have substantially expanded our bus (coach) coverage,” he adds, noting the French coach market was recently deregulated. “We now have all the buses across all of France and to/from international destinations through various partnerships with the different bus companies like Flixbus, Isilines, Ouibus, Megabus, Starshipper etc. So lots of options for consumers.”
Asked why it took such a relatively long time to cut a deal with SNCF, Shaam says: “SNCF is a large company in a large tourist country and we have been growing substantially in Europe working on many fronts, so it takes time.”
“We are treated as a full partner with them and we get the same deal as other travel providers,” he adds (albeit rival Loco2, which focuses on pan-European train travel only, has had SNCF integration since 2013 — the first third party to cut a deal for access to their booking system).
Growth wise, Shaam tells TechCrunch he’s expecting France to “equal or possible surpass” GoEuro’s other “big” markets: Germany, Spain, the UK and Italy.
He says there’s also likely to be a multiplier effect on its other big markets as the full addition of French train routes expands all the potential routes GoEuro users can book. “GoEuro becomes exponentially more ‘valuable’ with each market we add, so with France filling the map for us it has an outsized importance,” he notes.
After France it’s smaller fry for GoEuro’s market expansions here on in. “There are plenty of other great opportunities, but we’re very focused on tourism (Ireland, Portugal, Czech Republic) as well as Scandinavia and a massive opportunity in growing Eastern Europe,” says Shaam.
Growing the inbound market by adding more users from North America and Asia are “massive opportunities”, he adds.
GoEuro is now “officially fully covering” 11 countries, 340+ rail and bus companies, as well as global air carriers. The platform is offered in 10 languages, with users coming from 120 countries at this point.