Running a tech company doesn’t give you much time to stop and review all the great things your team has achieved; the past always seems less important than the work you’re doing right now. However, 2016 was such a banner year for Rome2rio we’ve taken the time to look back and remember the good stuff that happened in a globally tumultuous year. Here are a few highlights of 2016 from the team at Rome2rio.
We started the year in high with our updated version of John G Bartholomew’s 1914 isochronic map making waves with geography and cartography lovers worldwide. Our map was picked up by global news outlets including Gizmodo, USA Today, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph UK. It was also viewed over 1 million times on Imgur.
Rome2rio welcomed many new team members in 2016. Our first new members for the year were Archit, KP and Quinn. Archit and Quinn joined our development team bringing with them plenty of youthful enthusiasm. KP came on board to manage our PR and Communications efforts.
Also notable in February; we released the 2nd of our data stories for the year. We dug into international search trends for several key markets and discovered some surprising things about our customers. You can read our findings, publish as part of our Labs project, here.
March saw the release of our first app for Android devices – much to the delight of long-term users who had been waiting for a while for us to make one! We have received lots of great feedback about the app and will continue to make improvements to the service, ensuring that Rome2rio is useful for people while they on the road.
A trio of new faces joined Rome2rio in April. We were thrilled to welcome Liz and Chantelle into our content team so that we could continue to ensure that we have the most up-to-date content for users searching on Rome2rio. Jordan joined our developer team and started working on our challenging flight booking project.
Our dive into HTTPS and ad revenue also made waves in April. It was well received by internet industry peers and many people are curious for a follow-up to our experiments here. We are working on it.
May was a particularly busy month. Not only did we announce a partnership with Distribusion which would make access to global coach schedules and bookings much easier, we also launched a very exciting new product feature: direct onsite bookings for UK rail. Customers would now have the option to search for and then book their UK rail journey directly on Rome2rio, making travel planning that much easier to manage. We are working hard on more integrations like this to help our customers save time and money.
Our data science team was busy this month too. In conjunction with well-respected Australian demographer Bernard Salt, we released the first edition of our Global Connectivity Ranking. Our team delved into our extensive database of routes and destinations to uncover which cities were the most internationally connected. The results provided a snapshot of changes in the geopolitical importance of cities around the world and demonstrated the type of insights Rome2rio’s data can generate.
Two examples of the future of software engineering joined our team in June. Christopher joined us a high school work experience student and Phoebe travelled to Australia on exchange from the University of Southern California and joined our team as an intern. Both have been working on a series projects to help Rome2rio become faster and better.
June also saw the release of our unified booking experience. Our development team worked hard to reimagine our UI to ensure that our customers have the simplest experience possible when booking across the different types of travel available through Rome2rio. This new user experience was the result of months of research and work from our front end/user experience development team. Key team member, Marton Bodonyi, has written extensively about this process plus other travel technology insights and user experience on his blog Usable Travel.
With the northern summer in full swing and plenty of people eyeing off those flight sales to sun, sand and surf, the time was right to release the results of our latest dive into the Rome2rio data pool. The Global Flight Price Ranking gathered together international domestic airline pricing information to delve into that perennial travel question; where can I get a good deal? They were some surprises in the data and plenty of discussion among the value spotters in our audience.
In July we added even more people to our team. Alex and Katie joined our development team and Tim joined our data science team. They started just in time for one of the highlights of the Rome2rio calendar: company retreat.
August in Melbourne is usually pretty miserable (though not as miserable as London in February). To combat this the Rome2rio team retreats to the warm climes of northern Queensland for a week of learning, sharing and bonding.
In 2016 we headed off to Airlie Beach where, amongst the games nights, boat trips, dinners out and cheese appreciation we took the time to reflect on our work to date, dig into ways that we could improve the site, learn new tools and find out interesting things about our colleagues. As always, it was a great week and the team returned to the office refreshed and ready to work hard in the lead up to Christmas.
September sees the beginning of the travel tech industry’s conference calendar. We believe these conferences are really important for meeting with our partners and peers and staying connected in an industry where innovation takes place in every corner of the globe. We kicked off the season by attending Traveltech 2016 in Sydney. Our CEO Rod Cuthbert presented a keynote on Rome2rio’s unique position as a proudly Australian company with a truly global focus. He picked up on this theme in a subsequent article for Australian Financial Review Tech Invest magazine. Entrepreneurial types should take a look.
It was a hot and steamy trip to Singapore for the Web In Travel conference hosted by the inimitable Yeoh Siew Yoon. Apart from the opportunity to meet with friends and partners, old and new, we were also awarded some silverware when we were chosen as the recipients of the WITovation 2016 Best Compare Award. It is always an honour to receive industry recognition for the hard work undertaken by the Rome2rio team, especially as there were many other worthy finalists in the category.
This month was all about new partnerships and product improvements. We kicked off the month with the release of the latest version of our iOS app. This version included some key updates including the ability to review recent searches offline (handy for when you are travelling data-free) as well as the ability to book rental cars and hotels on the go. Find out more about the release in this blog post.
We announced a raft of partnerships in November. Trenitalia, Amtrak and Travelport all inked agreements for onsite bookings with Rome2rio, bringing us that much closer to our goal of seamless search and booking.
November also saw a new team member come on board. Justin joined us our Online Customer Service Manager after ten years of gaining deep travel industry knowledge as part of the team at American Express. He is now our go-to-guy for the scoop on sales!
We rounded out the year with an unexpected cherry in the form of further industry recognition. We were named Best Metasearch Site at the 2016 Travolution Awards. Our intrepid business development man, Andrew, was on hand to accept the award after a big month traversing the globe to meet with Rome2rio partners in the US and Europe. This award meant a lot to us: not only because we’re a long way from Travolution’s home market, the UK, but also because we were up against the biggest players in the European market.
In 2017, Rome2rio is planning to make our product even more helpful to our customers so we can retain our crown as the most comprehensive online travel search engine. Want to get involved? We are always looking for new people to join our team. Visit our careers page to find out more about how you can help us build the best travel tool in the world.