Richard, Marty & Andrew Join The Rome2rio Team

Rome2rio’s development team continues to grow, and this month we welcome three new team members: Richard Fothergill, Marton Bodonyi and Andrew Greig.

Marton, Andrew & Richard outside Rome2rio's Richmond offices

Marton, Andrew & Richard outside Rome2rio’s Richmond offices

Richard is completing his Computer Science PhD at the University of Melbourne. He has been studying under Tim Baldwin in the Natural Language Processing group. He will be working closely with Marco on our team and tackling a variety of data science problems, of which we certainly have no shortage.

Marty and Andrew are both experienced front-end developers who have plunged head first into Rome2rio’s vast CSS, jQuery, and Javascript front-end codebase. With these two new team members we are really doubling-down on optimising Rome2rio’s expanding user interface for desktop, mobile and tablet. Both bring some much-needed design skills to the team, as well as a broad toolkit of technologies and best practices from their prior roles.

If you are interested in joining our developer team then keep an eye on our jobs page and shoot us an email at jobs(at) to introduce yourself.

Stations Near Me: New Feature Helps Travelers Get Across Town

During a recent trip to the US, our content team member Kate had a chance to explore Washington DC using the popular Capital Bikeshare program.

Kate and her friend Hannah exploring DC by bicycle

Kate and her friend Hannah exploring DC by bike

Kate used Rome2rio on her phone to plan her journey around town, but craved an additional feature – an easy way to view a list of all bike share stations near her current location.

This feature request came up last month at our annual company retreat on the Sunshine Coast, near Brisbane. The retreat is partly a hackathon, giving the team a chance to focus on new features and ideas that wouldn’t normally get prioritized.

Kate’s use-case struck a chord with the team. We decided to build a new Stations near me feature that displays directions to nearby train, bus, tram, and bike share stations.

To access the new feature on your mobile device, simple click the Nearby button on the search screen and select Stations near me.


Rome2rio displays a list of nearby stops and the walking distance to each. For example, from our offices at 41 Stewart St, Richmond we see a variety of nearby train, bus, tram and bike share stations listed:


Our focus at Rome2rio is on providing comprehensive inter-city trip planning. However, we are seeing increased usage by travelers planning trips around the city they’re in, not just between cities. Give Stations near me a spin in your hometown, or next time you’re on the road.

Advance Booking Alert Function Launches

Rome2rio announced today the launch of its Advance Booking Alert function, aimed at ensuring travelers are fully informed when transport operators require or recommend advance reservations for their services. The Rome2rio site now displays an alert alongside schedules that indicates whether advance bookings are compulsory, recommended, or not required. We believe we are the first online service to display this information on a global basis.

Do I need to book this in advance?” is among the most common questions asked by our seven million monthly users. Having discovered, for example, that there’s a frequent TGV service from Turin to Paris, travelers then wonder if they should book ahead of time, or take a chance and buy their ticket at the station. As advance bookings are mandatory for the TGV, we want to make that completely clear.


Advance booking advisories ensure you’re not left waiting on the platform

On the other hand, many operators do not require mandatory advance bookings, and in these cases travelers are prone to assume that they’ll find a seat at the last minute. That’s often not true, and in those cases we’ll display messaging that says an advance booking is recommended. Inter-city trains in France, Italy and Germany, Amtrak and Megabus services in the US, many Russian trains and peak-season Mediterranean ferry services are all good examples, but the list certainly doesn’t stop there .

Advance Booking Example Image

Rome2rio is working with transport operators to collect data on advance booking requirements. Many operators, particularly in Europe, flag services that require advance bookings in their schedule data feeds, however in other cases the company will work directly with operators to collect the information. Eventually, advance booking information will be displayed for the majority of the almost 5,000 train, bus and ferry operators displayed on the site.

Announcing User Accounts And Search History

We have launched support for user accounts on Rome2rio, providing users with the ability to browse their search history, and save their favourite trips.

To create an account, simply click the Sign up button at the top of the page:


You can access your search history and add trips to your favourites list:


Currently, user accounts are only available on desktop and tablet; support will be added for mobile users soon. Additional functionality such as transport mode preferences and booking history will also be added in the future.

Fruit Tray Wednesday

Over the last year a new tradition has evolved at Rome2rio team meetings and we call it Fruit Tray Wednesday. Each week a team member will present an analysis of some part of the Rome2rio site or user behavior. The results of A/B tests are often included. The rest of the team are then prompted to guess the results of the analysis, with a fruit prize on offer to the winner.

Past fruit tray questions have included:

  • How many rail tickets did we sell in January?
  • Which A/B tested text received the most clicks: “Sydney Hotels”, “221 Hotels”, “Hotels from $74” or “Compare 221 Hotels”?
  • Which revenue source provided the best commissions: hotels, rental cars, flights, packages or tours & activities?
  • Which search destination has grown the most in popularity during 2015?


The name derives from an Australian tradition known colloquially as the meat tray where pubs, bars or the local bowls club will provide a prize tray of assorted meats for a competition such as trivia.

As a joke, the prize for Andrew’s inaugural meat tray quiz was a small can of Spam. As a sensibility towards our vegetarian team members we’ve started offering fruit platters instead, which tend to be devoured by the whole team during the meeting.

I personally love our fruit tray culture. It encourages team members to share interesting data in an engaging way. It also invites team members to think critically about user behavior and often provides surprising results that challenge their assumptions.

As careful optimization and A/B testing become more prevalent at Rome2rio I am sure we will continue have plenty of fodder for our quizzes.

From Responsive Design To Mobile Website

Like most travel sites today, providing a great mobile experience to users is increasingly important. Just two years ago, mobile devices represented just 13% of visits to Today they represent 33% of visits, with desktop representing 54% and tablet representing 13%.

In 2012 we launched a responsive design which employed @media CSS tags to mold Rome2rio’s desktop design onto the smaller display. The resulting experience was passable but not optimal.

This week we’re excited to launch a new, separate web interface for mobile users. The layout is cleaner and easier to navigate with information laid out across more panels. The map is displayed on a separate screen, accessible from all pages via an array of button on the bottom rail. High resolution icons are now used. Most importantly, the performance has been substantially improved and the CSS and Javascript payloads have been reduced.

The screenshots below provide a comparison between the old and new interface for mobile visitors:

Old vs new mobile UI

In the process of developing the mobile site, we took the opportunity to refine parts of our desktop site. For example, we refreshed the hotel view, left rail itineraries and transit details panel.

Hotels new UI

We also made some improvements to Rome2rio’s multi-hop interface, which is perhaps the most complex part of the site’s design:

New multi-hop UI

Some aspects of the new design have yet to ship and will roll out over the next month or two. These include more mobile friendly configuration menus and auto-complete inputs.

Mobile autocomplete


Chris on our team created a short guide to the new mobile interface:

We hope you enjoy the new design and find Rome2rio even more useful for planning journeys and reviewing itineraries whilst on the road.

Visualizing Popular Travel Destinations Through Heatmaps

Rome2rio provides users with multi-modal travel directions to destinations that range from large cities down to exact addresses. With over 200,000 visitors daily, this provides us with a unique repository of data about travelers’ preferences for various destinations. Visualizing this data as heatmaps of popular destinations for users from specific countries allows us to gain some insight into the travel preferences of different markets.

We prepared heatmaps by processing all user queries on Rome2rio in 2014, mapping each query onto the user’s location (aggregated by country), and the co-ordinates of their searched destination. We visualized this data by producing per-country heatmaps for ten of Rome2rio’s top markets. Our heatmaps highlight regions that are more popular with users from a particular country than they are with users from other countries.

Rome2rio’s destination heatmaps show the relative frequency with which users search for destinations around the world, broken down by the user’s country. In this blog post, we explore some trends that we have observed in playing with this data, broken down by the country in which users are located.

United Kingdom: Brits especially love France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the coast of Spain and southern Turkey (around Fethiye). The east coasts of the US and Australia are also popular.


United States: Americans love the UK, Italy (especially Tuscany and Umbria regions) and other non-coastal parts of Western Europe. The Greek Islands and Israel are popular, as is India (perhaps NRIs searching for journeys home). Cuba is noticeably less popular, though we can expect this to change in view of improving relations between the two countries.


Indian: Indians love traveling the US east coast. Switzerland, the Middle East, eastern Asia, Africa, and New Zealand also rate highly.


Brazil users: South and Central America are naturally popular with Brazilians, as is Florida, New York and California. Of course, Portugal is a frequently searched destination and Italy rates a mention.


Spanish users: Spaniards frequent their European and African neighbours, but Germany and Romania are also popular destinations. Spanish speaking regions of South America also rate highly.


In addition to the countries already mentioned, Rome2rio’s destination heatmaps also cover Germany, Australia, France, Canada and Italy. Share your insights and discoveries with us via Facebook and Twitter (@rome2rio)!