Coach Hire Comparison eyes Europe after another year of growth

Coach hire price comparison website Coach Hire Comparison has said it is looking into European expansion after another year of record growth.

The company, founded by husband and wife team James and Laura Stokes in 2010, reveals it is on track to achieve bookings totalling £5.3m for the financial year to February, up from £3.4m last year.

The figures translate to 90,000 quotes in the 2022 financial year, compared with an annual average of 60,000.

Mr Stokes says the growth is down to the introduction of new features on the website and continued growth in coach travel due to rails trikes and resurgence in demand for airport transfers, school and corporate travel, stag and hen trips and events. A partnership with Gauntlet Insurance has also seen it attract new operators, and more similar partnerships are under discussion.

“We have seen a marked upsurge in quotes and bookings each time rail strikes have been announced, and especially for last-minute requests when train services have been cancelled at short notice,” says Mr Stokes. “As a result, people have stuck with coach travel, especially while there remains uncertainty about rail services.

“During the past year we have added new features to our system, which have boosted conversion rates once quotes have been provided. We have begun pushing out quotes to operators outside of the areas directly mentioned in the routes requested, and this has had a tremendous impact on bookings as it has created greater competition and has therefore brought benefits to customers.

“Our enhanced Away from Base service has also been well-received. It enables operators to utilise their vehicles during a stay at a destination while awaiting the return journey by advertising their availability while they are there.”

According to the company, the robust market has seen many of its operator partners increase their fleets in order to cater with higher demand over the past 12 months.

“These positive developments give us enormous confidence for the future and we are now looking to take the business to the next level, with potential expansion into European travel being looked at along with company contracts for transporting their staff and more complex sporting and other event bookings,” adds Mr Stokes. “We also continue to invest in our technology to enhance the customer experience and bring even more success for the operators with whom we work.”

Coach Hire Comparison is actively used by around 130 independent coach and minibus operators across England, Scotland and Wales. It is based in Shirland, Derbyshire. Operators listed by Coach Hire Comparison are typically owner-managed businesses a small number of vehicles.