Skift Take

Intercity bus booking may not be glamorous, but there could be a lot of opportunity in helping the multi-billion-dollar sector go online.

Bookaway Group, which provides reservation platforms and operational software for intercity bus and ferry operators, recently acquired Plataforma 10, an online travel agency based in Argentina.

The companies didn’t disclose the deal terms. The acquisition is completed and has passed regulatory hurdles.

“We’ll give them the opportunity to expand regionally into countries like Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru where online penetration hasn’t gone beyond 10 percent,” said Noam Toister, CEO and co-founder of Bookaway.

Bookaway, based in Tel Aviv, raised $35 million in Series B funding last year. It had previously raised $11 million. The group is a federation of brands that includes 12Go, which focuses on Asia, and GetByBus, which has a specialty in the Balkans.

Bookaway plans to use its funding partly to speed up Plataforma 10’s growth as a booking brand. Plataforma 10, which had raised next-to-no external capital, today helps more than 400 Latin American bus operators sell online and through local shops and kiosks.

“The group brings an ambitious, data-driven culture that we’re embracing as we grow to become Latin America’s top brand for ground transport,” said CEO of Plataforma 10 Gustavo Markier.

Currently, a large majority of intercity-bus trips are booked offline through walk-ups and traditional travel agencies. But Bookaway Group aims to drag the sector online.

So do the group’s competitors, which include Busbud, MakeMyTrip Group’s Redbus, and Reservamos. Metasearch, or price-comparison, brands such as CheckMyBus, Omio, Trainline, and Wanderu also play a role.

Last month, Busbud, a Montreal-based startup that sells tickets to consumers and builds software to help operators sell intercity coach tickets, said it had raised another $11 million in strategic financing. It also acquired Recorrido, a company in Santiago that helps bus operators in Chile use technology for smoother operations and selling. Busbud plans to scale up the use of Recorrido’s technology in other markets.

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Tags: argentina, bookaway, buses, mergers and acquisitions, startups

Photo credit: A long-distance bus with reclining seats run by Latin American operator AndesMar. Source: AndesMar.

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