Last Monday Rome2rio cracked 512,868 unique visits. The journey from small startup to a global travel search engine that’s known and respected globally has been fast, sometimes furious, and always a lot of fun.
At this milestone, we are taking a moment to reflect on a few things that have changed since 2012, when we first started looking at traffic in a meaningful way. Here are a few of the standout items:
Our 200k celebration, March 2015.
Five years ago Rome2rio consisted of the two founders, Michael and Bernie, both engineers; our first full-time engineer hire, Ash Verdoorn; and Rod Cuthbert, playing the role of “old industry hand / business guy”. Since then we’ve grown to 35 core team members in Melbourne. We expect to continue hiring the best and brightest people (side note: looking for a job? Check out our open roles) and this growth has necessitated an even bigger change.
Early on we decided to put down some roots at Inspire9, a co-working space in Richmond that has been our home ever since. But it’s time to move… next door. We’ve found 1300sqm in a magnificent 1920s building that’s all of 40 steps away from our current digs and will comfortably house our team as it grows to 100 and beyond.
The next big change revolves around what those people do. At the end of 2012, we had three engineers, one business guy and one “content” guy, Chris Lipinski. That content role has become more and more important as we’ve grown: today we have 6 people in the Melbourne-based Content team, along with 23 contractors scattered around the globe. Although we remain an engineering-led business, there’s a clear understanding what value globally comprehensive and relevant data has for our site.
“I had to figure out how to get from Toronto to my Grandmother’s super-remote village in northern Greece. You told me in one second, and it turned out perfectly accurate. How do you do that?”<
Customer feedback like this makes both the engineering
and content teams happy.
Over the years we’ve seen some changes in where our traffic comes from. Here are some chosen highlights from that front:
- Mobile searches are dominant now, with mobile and tablet users delivering 60% of our traffic vs 14% in 2012.
- More of our users are from Europe (55%, up from 33% in 2012), still way ahead of traffic from the Americas (23% now, 20% in 2012).
- Traffic from our English-language site remains dominant at 55% vs 80% back in 2012, but French, Italian, Spanish and German language traffic are all on the rise, each accounting for 6 to 10% of the overall, up from tiny numbers in 2012.
Adding on-site booking for major transportation operators
is a key element of our business strategy.
Finally, our business goals have broadened over time. In 2012 we were focused on being a transportation search engine that showed all the options, then handed you over to partners; today we offer on-site bookings for trains in the UK, Italy, Spain, the USA and Canada, and buses all over Europe. That trend will continue with many more booking partnerships in the works, and we’ll maintain affiliate relationships where we think our partners can do the best job of managing the booking. This expansion of our goals followed sustained input from our user base to make booking simpler by providing search and book functions on the same site. We listened.
All this reminiscing is fun, and it certainly throws up some interesting comparison data. It’s easy to become wrapped up in traffic and growth issues, but one lesson we’ve learned is not to be too focused on the next traffic goal (a 1 million visitor day?) but to focus instead on continuing to build a platform that delivers the things our customers are asking for. Still, it’s hard not to wonder; something tells us it’s not too far away.