Monthly Archives: August 2011

8 lesser known rome2rio features

Whilst rome2rio is well known for its ability to show you how to get from A to B by searching various modes of transport, we have implemented several features that are not immediately obvious to users.

Here is a summary of 8 useful rome2rio features you may have missed:

1. Explore mode

If you input an origin, but leave the destination blank rome2rio will display a list of nearby airports and train stations on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on one of these, and you’ll be shown all possible direct trains and flights from that airport or station. We call this explore mode, and it is quite useful for “where can I go?” type of exploration. For flight routes, you can click on each destination and view airlines and flight times to that destination. 

R2r-browse

2. Deeplinks

Rome2rio supports deeplinks in the format http://www.rome2rio.com?%5Borigin%5D/%5Bdestination%5D – for example http://www.rome2rio.com?new+york/grand+canyon will show results from New York to the Grand Canyon. The deeplink can also include outbound and return (optional) travel dates, triggering the display of airfares. For example, http://www.rome2rio.com/?new+york/grand+canyon/2011-12-18/2011-12-31.

You can also omit an origin from your deeplink. When a user clicks the link, they will be shown directions from their automatically-detected current town to that destination:
http://www.rome2rio.com/?/den+haag

A deeplink without a destination is also valid. This is especially useful to link to explore mode for a particular airport. This link shows all direct flights from San Jose airport: 
http://www.rome2rio.com/?sjc 

Users of the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox and Safari (but sadly not IE) will now notice that the URL dynamically changes when performing searches on rome2rio, thanks to support for this in HTML5. Users can also use the browser back and forward buttons to move between searches. For older browsers, we have kept the Link button in the top-left corner which displays a deeplink URL for the current search.

R2r-deeplink

3. Country and state destinations

As described in this earlier blog post, you can type the name of a country or a state as your destination into rome2rio. For example, you can view all routes from Belfast to France or Boston to Florida

4. Multiple airline itineraries

Most travel search sites are shopping engines that display only combinations of flights that can be sold with a single ticket through codeshare and interlining agreements. Rome2rio is a route search engine, which lists any combination of flights available to reach your destination. This includes combinations of flights offered by completely separate airlines that can be purchased individually, known as split ticketing.

For example for a search from Melbourne to New Orleans, rome2rio displays a split ticket option of flying with V Australia to LAX, then with Southwest Airlines to New Orleans. These multiple airline options are display separately, usually at the bottom of the itineraries window, with a pair of broken dots indicating the split.

R2r-split

5. Missing airfare schedules

Rome2rio searches flight schedules licensed from Innovata which covers over 670 airlines. When the user clicks the show airfares button, rome2rio displays airfares for the itineraries. We chose to partner with Kayak.com to provide these airfares because Kayak are a meta-search engine and have better airfare coverage than other travel search sites.

However, there are some airlines that don’t provide their airfares to search engines such as Kayak. These range from obscure, small carriers to more popular airlines such as Southwest and Ryanair. The rome2rio interface displays scheduled flights for these airlines with a link to the carrier website alongside other priced itineraries.

6. Different date schedules

Some airlines, especially budget carriers in Europe, only fly routes on certain days of the week. Rome2rio displays the days of operation beside each flight. If you choose to show airfares for a weekday that the flight does not operate on, this is highlighted by the interface.

R2r-noprice

7. Specific destinations

Rome2rio is designed for finding routes from one side of the globe to the other, and users typically input a city, town or entire country/state as their destination. However, you can be as specific as you want and input an exact address or landmark. If you input an exact address which is accessibly by rail or bus, rome2rio may display on the map a grey line leading you to your destination from the nearby train station or bus stop.

For example, www.rome2rio.com/?/10+downing+st,+london.

R2r-10downing

8. Antarctica

Rome2rio will even give you directions to Antarctica.

Give it a go now! http://www.rome2rio.com/?/antarctica

Advertisements

Coding, Pizza and Red Bull at Startup Hackathon

Last weekend I mentored the participants of the Startup Hackathon here in Melbourne (startuphack.org). In theirs words, “Startup Hackathon is a 48 hour marathon of coding, pizza, and red bull”.

When we moved to Melbourne to start www.rome2rio.com, we never anticipated the flourishing Startup scene that would await us here. We decided to spread the word by posting our very first blog entry on the subject (blog.rome2rio.com/start-up-life-in-melbourne-0). We’ve since been helping out any way we can (blog.rome2rio.com/out-and-about-in-melbourne-spreading-the-word). When Amir asked us to provide some mentorship to the students over the weekend, we jumped at the opportunity.

The event was huge! There were over 50 university students participating – and one high schooler who quietly snuck in. The event was held at the Inspire9 co-working space (www.inspire9.com.au). Most people stayed there the entire 48 hours, catching an hour of sleep now and then in one of the Skype booths. I had the luxury of going home on Friday (at 2am) and sleeping in on Saturday. I came back on Sunday to see the final presentations and have a retrospective chat with all the red-eyes in the room.

Startuphackathon

Here are the teams that participated and a link to their project site (in no particular order). I don’t know how long these sites will stay online, since most of them were just created for fun.

  • readachunk.com – Read books one chunk at a time.
  • lookingatyounow – An online version of “Here’s looking at you” in MX.
  • findmyti – A calendar that automatically schedules tasks.
  • bitbuysell – Charge BitCoin purchased to your mobile bill.
  • wheredoistart.net – Motivation for the un-inspired.
  • teaddict – A community for tea lovers.
  • staleale – A community to trade beer close to its best-before date.
  • ping2hq.com – A realtime mobile tracking application.
  • rateyourlecturer.com – Meaningful reviews of lecturers.
  • janusjobs.com – A community to facilitate job sharing.
  • exhort.me – Get out and do something new.
  • FogHorn – Android alarm clock with ratings.

The Hackathon was part of the Entrepreneurs Week event being held right now (eweek.org.au). The goal of this event is to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at universities around Melbourne and New South Wales. It’s organized by the amazing folks over at agentsofchange.org.au – Amir, Kevin, Tim and Michelle.

Moroccan trains added to rome2rio

Morocco is a fascinating place to visit, and it’s just a 1-hour ferry ride away from Europe by crossing the strait of Gibraltar from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier, Morocco.

Morocco was once a French protectorate, and the influence is still present today with French considered Morocco’s unofficial second language. Another legacy of this influence is the French-built railway network, which still operates today and is a great way to explore the country. Last week we added Moroccan trains to rome2rio.

Popular tourist cities Tangier, Meknes, Fez, Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakesh are all linked by the rail network, and the distances are not too great. Tangier to Fes is a 3 hour 30 minute journey, Fes and Meknes are just an hour apart, and it’s another 2 hours 30 minutes from Meknes on to Rabat. Continuing south, it’s another 1 hour and 30 minutes from Rabat to Casablanca, and then 3 hours and change from Casablanca to the fascinating city of Marrakesh with its famous Djemaa el Fna square. 

Morocco-train-routes

Trains are run by the country’s railway company ONCF and are quite comfortable, especially in 1st class. They are also inexpensive, with a 1st class journey from Tangier all the way down to Marrakesh costing around $37 USD. As well as exploring your train travel options through Morocco on rome2rio, we also recommend the excellent Seat61 Morocco resource which provides excellent, detailed information about rail travel in the country.

P1040864

Caribbean island hopping: we show you how

The Caribbean is littered with fascinating islands, and hopping between them makes for a unique travel experience.

The islands are not as well connected by ferry as, say, the Greek islands. This is largely due to the greater distances between them, so any island hopping in the Caribbean is going to involve a bit of flying. However there are a few islands that are well linked and figuring out the connections is where rome2rio comes in. Popular ferry links we’ve added include those between St Kitts and Nevis, between the US and British Virgin Islands, linking Saint Martin with Anguilla and Saint Barths, linking Guadeloupe with Dominica, Martinique and St Lucia, and around Grenada and around St Vincent.

R2r-caribbean-ferries

Now, you can use rome2rio to re-trace Lisabeth Salander’s island hopping adventure in The Girl Who Played With Fire, from Guadeloupe to St Lucia. She also takes a ferry from St Lucia on to Grenada, but there’s no ferry service linking these islands as far as our research has found!

For a fantastic guide to Caribbean ferries check out this guide on Travellerspoint.

 

Irish trains, carbon offsets and the iAwards

It’s been a busy week for the rome2rio team. After a bunch of engineering groundwork over the past two months we’ve been shipping a bunch of changes to the site and adding more transport coverage (mostly trains) around the globe.

The big event this week was the release of an integrated carbon offset calculator. After our launch in April we began working with Offset Options, an exciting startup that is creating a market place for carbon offset providers. Through the partnership, rome2rio now displays the carbon footprint for each multi-modal journey to the user. What’s especially cool is that Offset Options provide a list of projects, and the user can select one to offset their trip. Examples include a geothermal power plant in Turkey or a hydro plant in China. This gives a lot more transparency to the whole process and where your money is going. Now rome2rio provides three axis for comparing vehicle-agnostic journeys; time, cost and carbon footprint.

The carbon calculator launch was covered by a tech blog sites including techcrunch, tnooz, lifehacker, and techin5.

R2r-carbon

Yesterday we also pushed out a new release that included Irish trains. Ireland has a reasonably extensive train network that links popular tourist destinations such as Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Cork, and Galway. To make planning your trip in Ireland a bit more complicated there are two independant rail network providers; Irish Rail in the republic and Northern Ireland Railways in the north. There are also a couple of ferry routes linking Ireland to England and Scotland, which we’ve also added to rome2rio to make planning your next Irish adventure easier. Give it a go now, and try a query like this one: http://www.rome2rio.com/?colwyn+bay/kilkenny

R2r-irish-trains

Finally, after winning the Victoria startup category, this week rome2rio won the national, start-up category merit prize at the iAwards. An exciting honour for us, and a great confidence boost that the ICT industry in Australia see the merit in what we’re doing. The top prize went to 99dresses, a very cool start-up based in Sydney and run by the impressive entrepreneur Nikki Durkin.