Besides demonstrating that an A380 is a lot bigger and probably more comfortable than a 737, there’s not a lot of consumer value in showing an image of the airplane in a search result. Most of us know what to expect when we fly; we’re familiar with the planes, and with the on-board experience. But that’s not the case when it comes to other forms of transportation.
At Rome2rio, we suspect many people choose to fly even when apparently better (lower cost, more comfortable, faster door-to-door) options are available. The same goes for train travelers and self-drivers, who might be reluctant to choose bus or rideshare, even in cases where those options offer real benefits over their usual choice.
Therein lies the reasoning behind Rome2rio’s new Transportation Images feature, which is being progressively rolled out. By displaying images of the various transport offerings within our search results, we expect our users will look at alternatives more closely, perhaps deciding that their bias towards air (or rail, or self-drive) might be a prejudice that deserves closer examination.
This example demonstrates how the Transportation Images feature is integrated into our search results:
This image of the fast-train operating from downtown Milan to downtown Rome will convince many travelers it’s a better option than flying.
In some cases, we expect that seeing an image of the vehicle will dispel a fear that it might be antiquated, slow, or somehow uncomfortable. Buses are a case in point: they simply don’t enjoy a great reputation for luxury. Images like these help reduce those concerns:
Modern buses compete with trains for luxury, and often beat them on price.
With ferries, there is often the fear of the unknown. How big is it? Is it safe? Will I need to wear a life jacket? When people see the ferries that operate on many routes nowadays, they express surprise… which is not surprising, given their space-age designs, which positively ooze speed and comfort.
Wave-piercing hull designs (from Tasmania!) have revolutionised ferry travel.
That’s not to say that all ferries are ocean-going liners, or that travelers are always looking for that type of experience. Sometimes, it’s good to know your travel experience will be authentic, and somehow connected to the history and culture of the place you’re visiting.
In many destinations, travelers are searching for the slow option.
Finally, there are some forms of transportation that are so specialised and site-specific that only a photograph or video can deliver a useful explanation. Funiculars, suspension railways and maglev railways all fit this bill.
Wuppertal’s suspension railway, and Schilthorn’s funicular: now you know.
As we continue to roll-out this feature over the coming months, we’ll be loading tens of thousands of images for trains, buses, ferries and other forms of transportation. As a result, we expect to see our users make journey plans with greater confidence to try something new: something that’s probably less expensive, possibly “greener”, and perhaps a change from their old travel habits.