Loco2 adds euro payments, plans international presence

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Pan-European rail booking service Loco2 can now accept payment in euros after satisfying some demanding “commercial, regulatory and technical” requirements  in France.

Co-founder and CEO Jamie Andrews says “this is the most complicated project we have ever done, which is saying something because we have done some very complicated things.”

Loco2 has had an existing connection to SNCF’s Euronet platform since it launched in 2012, but to start selling in euros it had set up a travel  agency registered in France. This has enabled an additional connection to the underlying Resarail system, which it accesses via Sabre.

Loco2’s proprietary system connects to many such APIs, though connections are made directly with the rail operator wherever possible as is currently the case in Spain, Italy and Germany.

He continues:

“Adding multi-currency support was a significant technical challenge in its own right, made even more complex by the pricing and distribution strategies of SNCF and its subsidiaries, including Eurostar. But we now have a robust booking system capable of making complex price and itinerary searches simple for users,wishing to book in their preferred currency.”

Andrews believes that the net result is that Loco2 is the first company to sell pan-European rail in more than one currency with a lowest-price guarantee, stealing a march on its well-funded rivals.

“Trainline sells in euros through its Captain Train acquisition, but it runs on two tech stacks and users can’t switch currencies, while GoEuro offers prices in multiple currencies but switches currency after the initial search, leaving users to pay in a different currency and incur foreign exchange rates and fees from their bank.”

The plan now is for Loco2 to target domestic travellers in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Andrews said that next on the tech team’s “to do” list is to build local language apps for these markets. He expects the apps to be live by end of Q2 2017.

He also expects to pick up business from Australian and American users of the site who will be able to buy continental rail tickets in euros.

Earlier this year Loco2 launched apps for the UK domestic rail market, redesigned the site and ran its first  ever offline ad campaign on the London Underground. Its revamped mobile site and the apps now account for more users than desktop.

This has helped it reach sales for the year of £15 million, 50% ahead of last year. “We’re pleased with that, but to be honest we were expecting more. Bookings for Paris and Brussels were slow to recover after the terrorism incidents, but things are back to normal now and we’ve got the momentum to really push our international business.”

Related reading from Tnooz:
GoEuro raises $70 million for multi-modal travel search, claims unicorn potential (Oct16)
How SilverRail has been leveling up its technical game (Oct16)
Loco2 launches app and adverts (April 2016)

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