How that will work is currently being
developed, with a pilot scheme planned.
When someone makes a search on the site,
algorithms track this, showing where future
And, as it’s automated, it means
Snap’s model is scalable - it can grow with
“Snap isn’t a coach company, which is a
good start,” says Thomas.
“There are lots of really good coach
companies. We only choose the best, and
we only run coaches on days we forecast
enough people will want to make a similar
trip. Which means we can deliver a keener
price than other providers.”
This method means that the risk - i.e.
of running a trip at a loss - is borne
by Snap, rather than the operator.
Operators are offered the opportunity
to do a job, for a fixed price. There’s no
bartering, and certainly no ‘auction-style’
Indeed, it’s a world away from rail
replacement and coach broking, where the
cheapest price wins.
To attract new customers, everyone gets
their first trip free, and feedback (a little
like Uber) from the passenger is vital. Good
feedback increases the operator’s score and
encourages them and their drivers to be
Passengers’ ‘star rating’ goes into
an algorithm so operators with high
scores win more work. “We want the best
operators to do well. The better they are,
the more trips are generated by happy
customers and the more work they get.”
Operators are not obliged to run specific
trips for Snap, they can choose when they
want to work, but when they accept a job
there are no cancellations. “We don’t cancel
and operators don’t cancel. That’s the
deal,” says Thomas. “But someone’s peak
is someone else’s trough, it all balances
Such has been the success that at least
two operators have invested in new
coaches specifically for Snap work.
“We are aiming at A to B like a VIP.
Quality is our goal.
“In some respects, our model is a little
like Airbnb, in that we don’t own the
assets, but we enable those who do (coach
operators) to win customers who they
otherwise wouldn’t get.
“It’s not abstracting from existing
coach networks, or indeed rail, as most
of our trips are made by people who
wouldn’t otherwise be travelling. We are
generating a new market.”
Now that Snap is established,
it’s planning a larger marketing campaign,
using London Underground sites, to boost
its profile. Currently Facebook is its number
one passenger recruiting ground.
Not about cost
“The problem with coach travel is not
the cost; it’s that 95% of people reject
it outright as they don’t consider
it as an option ‘for people like them’,
it is a quality and perception issue,” says
“Our challenge is not to squeeze costs -
the industry model takes care of itself - but
to increase ridership. If we could get just 1%
of those 95% to travel, that would increase
the coach market by 20%.”
Snap is not only a well-backed company
- in terms of finance and staff skills - but
32 and counting
Snap is based on quality, so it only
partners with quality operators. Currently
it works with 32, ranging from Watts
Coaches in South Wales, to Paul S. Winson
in Loughborough, Anderson Travel
in London and Johnsons of Henley in the
Thomas aims to add more partner
companies as the operation grows
geographically. Ultimately, the plan is that
anyone, anywhere will be able to book
a trip; at the moment bookings are solely
on key corridors.
// We are aiming
at A to B like a VIP.
Quality is our goal //
3 OCTOBER 2018 ROUTE-ONE.NET / 39