In today’s hyperconnected world, travelers rely so heavily on apps that often the quality of their travel experiences depend on them. An outstanding trip might result from recommendations or ease of booking from an app, and vise versa: if something major goes wrong – an app might be to blame.
Europe has given rise to plenty of top travel app contenders in recent years to ensure traveling contains more of the fun, less of the stress. With a dense population that tends to travels often, Europe is an ideal market to launch a travel app. The close proximity of countries, cultures and transportation systems also makes Europe the perfect setting for development and testing.
Travel apps today range from flight booking and tracking, to legal protection, to mapping out public transportation routes in a city. Although Google, TripAdvisor, Uber and AirBnb are major players in travel tech, smaller contenders within Europe are holding onto their fair share of the market. UX Planet explains that transparency, minimalism, speed and a quality search engine are key focus points for making an app that users download, enjoy and continue to use.Here are 10 European apps making both local and international travel easier for millions of people. The recent success of these picks suggests they’re much more likely to make your trip than break it.
Currently available in German cities, Ally is a one-stop app for planning city travel; car sharing, bike sharing, public transport and taxis are all seamlessly integrated in a single user experience. The company’s goal is one we can certainly get behind: to reduce individual traffic and prioritize collective transport. But what makes Ally different from the other local transportation apps? Co-founder and CEO Maxim Nohroudi says, “Our internationally active community of commuters, open data enthusiasts and urban innovators help us to make city transport systems smoother and smarter. Thanks to our sophisticated backend infrastructure, we are able to analyse routes, schedules, prices and navigation behavior, enabling us to go one step further by offering valuable information on transport optimisation.”
The world’s largest long-distance ridesharing app, BlaBlaCar, was founded in France in 2006 by Nicolas Brusson and has since grown to a whopping €1.4 billion valuation. The app allows users to book rideshares with reputable drivers for long haul drives (a much better option than hitchhiking, if you ask us). And did you know that during the last 12 months, their app has been downloaded millions of times in France, Germany, Italy and Spain alone. Some say even more often than the Uber app.
Over time, BlaBlaCar may move into a club-like business model – offering perks and benefits to anyone who is a member. The end goal? To move away from the concept of traditional car ownership and into a more sustainable car-as-a-service model.
If you feel like taking the helm yourself Scooty (Brussels & Antwerp) or Emmy (Berlin) or Coup (Paris and Berlin) or plenty other options across Europe. What all of them have in common is an Android-fueled open source platform beamed on all our phones and awesome e-scooters which you can find and leave around town. Pricing differs slightly but always leaves you cheaper than public transport or a shared car. Provided the weather plays along, these rides promise a hassle free to-door ride!
Although recently acquired by Germany’s MyTaxi, Beat (formerly Taxibeat) established itself as a force in the Greek ridesharing market with annual growth of 180% since 2011. The app enables passengers to locate nearby taxi drivers and select the driver they prefer based on ratings, distance, amenities and more. Beat’s success, even in the face of regulatory hurdles, demonstrates the high demand for ridesharing apps in Europe. The company’s acquisition by a Daimler-owned subsidiary also signals the potential of independent contenders in a market already dominated by Uber.
Berlin-based GoEuro places great emphasis on ground transportation networks in Europe, which remain largely underdeveloped. “Many operators don’t have mobile applications, says Founder and CEO Naren Shaam. “You should be able to click a button and hop on the next train.” Integrating Europe’s travel options has become the differentiator for GoEuro, which is now in the process of expanding its services to 30 countries in Europe.
A true European success story, Citymapper is the most widely used local public transportation app. Founder Azmat Yusuf launched the company back in 2011 with a focus on bus routing in London. Now, in 2017, his company develops smart data algorithms to deliver the best insights to its users. Yusuf is currently exploring monetization options with a positive outlook, saying “there are multiple ways we can do it.” One thing is for sure: Yusuf doesn’t anticipate taking the exit-to-Google route anytime soon. “That’s boring,” he says.
What happens once we’ve successfully traveled from point A to point B? GetYourGuide offers travelers thousands of tours, tickets and activities in their destination of choice that can be pre-booked online at low prices. The company partners with local touring and sightseeing firms and removes the guesswork for travelers by selecting the most reputable companies. GetYourGuide has enjoyed steady success with its headquarters in Berlin.
Spotted by Locals (Netherlands)
For the non-touristy tourist, Spotted by Locals is a digital mecca of top activities in cities around the world. The app is consistently ranked in best-of lists for travel apps, and we can understand why: it brings local flavour to visitors in a convenient way, allowing them to explore the latest hotspots in a new city. Since 2008, residents across the globe have been weighing in with tips and information about their city’s best kept secrets. Spotted by Locals has gone from a web-based community to a mobile app that not only offers real-time information, but also up-to-date, downloadable city guides for those who can’t access wifi while traveling.
Kiwi.com (Czech Republic)
Formerly Skypicker, Kiwi.com began in a basement and grew to a 500-employee enterprise in just four years. The recipe for success is one part good timing and another part complex data engineering. Kiwi CEO, Oliver Dlouhý, explains his company’s complex, proprietary algorithm that has elevated the app above the competition: “[It] integrates low-cost flights with major airlines to create new unique routes often 50 to 90% cheaper than published fares. Many low-cost carriers do not have cooperation agreements with the big airlines, severely limiting the combination options available to travellers.”
Gillian Tans, CEO, set out with a mission to put customer service back at the forefront of travel services. In doing so, she created not just another booking platform – but rather a trustworthy tool for travelers to book smart and have one less detail to worry about. Intuitive user experience concepts, such as detecting the native language of a user and displaying the appropriate customer service number for a hotel, are all part of booking.com and what Tans describes as a “culture of customer service and a willingness to jump through almost any type of hoop.”
AirHelp is the world’s top flight disruption claims service, having helped over three million passengers navigate the legal process of claiming compensation for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights. The company provides valuable content for air travelers so they can better understand their options when air travel plans go awry. From everyday delay compensation claims to airline bankruptcy claims, AirHelp supports passengers and their rights when dealing with tricky airline regulations.
What are your favorite travel apps? Keep your eyes peeled for more great picks in our ongoing series on the European mobile economy.
Picture credit: Cover photo from rawpixel.com and in text by Steven Lewis on Unsplash