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Flixbus Rides the Cloud to Make Buses Sexy

Flixbus is disrupting ground transportation in Europe, building the continent's biggest long-haul bus company "without owning a single bus." And they're doing it on the cloud, company founder and CEO Daniel Krauss tells Enterprise Cloud News.

Flixbus uses a cloud service to connect 250 regional bus companies in Europe, operating 1,300 buses. Passengers can use a mobile app to book bus service between European cities, Krauss says. Flixbus has served nearly 100 million passengers this year.

Flixbus is marrying a traditional form of transportation with demand-based flexible pricing using cloud applications, Krauss says.

"Since a bus seat can be sold only once during a certain time and day, it's crucial to do proper revenue pricing. This is something that the ground transportation industry has never done in the past, though it's been done with airlines," Krauss says.

By FlixBus - FlixBus.nl newsroom, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link
By FlixBus - FlixBus.nl newsroom, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link


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Flixbus is looking to sell bus seats the way Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) sells third-party products, providing a brand that customers trust for quality, and letting partners provide the service. Local bus company partners have decades or generations of experience running buses -- Flixbus provides new business, with revenue sharing, quality control standards, marketing and optimal scheduling.

Most of the companies Flixbus deals with are regional; Flixbus expands their reach to the entire continent, Krauss says.

Five-year-old Flixbus has been using Salesforce.com Inc. since 2013 to consolidate customer relationships through multiple channels, including the Flixbus app and social media. Flixbus uses Salesforce Service Cloud and NewVoiceMedia contact center to structure communications channels and provide innovative customer service. For example: If a customer provides a mobile phone number to be notified of delays, and the customer later calls from that number because the customer can't find their bus, that customer's call is given high priority, Krauss.

Flixbus has been using Salesforce Marketing Cloud for five years to tie together multichannel marketing and customer preference profiles. Using Marketing Cloud, Flixbus tracks customer preferences such as whether they prefer shorter or longer connections, night connections, cheapest possible fares and whether customers communicate over social or whether email is a better channel.

Krauss praised Salesforce's customer service. "Even though they are fairly large, working together with them is like working with a startup."

But there is room for improvement. Salesforce is a one-size-fits-all solution, which means a company like Flixbus can get started quick, but it is not always easiest to customize and tailor for specific needs, Krauss says.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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Ariella 12/22/2017 | 1:08:54 PM
fixbus If I understand this model correctly, it would be applying higher prices during peak times rather like we have for trains -- but not subways -- where I live. But I can imagine the outcry of working folk who rely on public transporation to get to and from work during peak times. Is there no concern about that over there?
[email protected] 12/22/2017 | 11:01:56 PM
Re: fixbus Ariella, I live in the metro NY area and all my transportation with the exception of a bus line has peak and off-peak fares. The peak fares are obviously more expensive they even have different rules for children on weekdays and weekends. It makes sense for the transport companies to try and move demand to fill the fewer peak times with more attractive pricing.
Ariella 12/23/2017 | 9:18:22 PM
Re: fixbus @maryam Yes, the LIRR runs that way, and I imagine the other train lines do, too. However, the fares tend to be high in general, and they may assume that those who can afford the train can afford to pay a bit more at peak times. Also those who do commute daily buy monthly passes to bring their costs down. But the transporations options for teh people who can't afford to pay high fares -- like the subways -- are uniform, despite the fact that so many people ride at peak times that people get packed into the cars like sardines.
Susan Fourtané 12/24/2017 | 10:35:33 PM
Re: fixbus: quite the opposite Ariella — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Flixbus has lower prices at times when presumably working people travel from city to city (this is not a local city bus). I recently observed this when I used the service in routes where there is a high traffic of commuters: Salzburg to Munich, and between other German cities. On top of that, if you download the application you can expect to see even lower prices than if you just buy your ticket from a browser. You manage your tickets, get your boarding pass on the app, and I never experienced a delay of any sort. You get unlimited free Wi-Fi that works all the time and is really fast. I have used the time from city to city to do some work. I think they offer a truly good service at very good prices. They have thought about commuters, don’t take advantage of their need to travel at certain times. Yet, the company is profitable and has a good reputation.
kq4ym 12/26/2017 | 8:55:29 AM
Re: fixbus I haven't ridden a train since I was a kid, but recently looked into fares from Florida to the Midwest and was shocked at how high they were, and considering the hours it took for the journey and the train changing required to get to the destination, not worth the effort. But, if there were some way for Amtrack to get "last minute" fares way way down I might be interested. Same thing for air fares. Are there ways to get tickets for those last minute unsold seats?
Ariella 12/26/2017 | 9:07:41 AM
Re: fixbus < Are there ways to get tickets for those last minute unsold seats?>

@kqa4ym the sites that search for low fares like Kayak may have those. I bet someone also developed an app for it. I recall someone devised an app that the airlines insist be removed because it figured out for people the cheapest way to to fly to particular places in a way that wasn't always clear from a straight search.
[email protected] 12/26/2017 | 12:39:44 PM
Re: fixbus Ariella we also see variable pricing in Jersey with NJ transit and the costs are incredible! Roundtrip to NY can run from $30 plus for an hour train ride. I have never been a fan of the subway even though I grew up in NY the crowds are not my comfort zone. I often find a short cab ride with the family is equivalent to a subway fare for three or four, I support making public transport more accessible and comfortable because it would increase usage and cities would benefit on many levels. 
Ariella 12/26/2017 | 1:40:22 PM
Re: fixbus < I support making public transport more accessible and comfortable because it would increase usage and cities would benefit on many levels. >

@Maryam definitely. NYC's subway system is one of the oldest -- possibly even the oldest -- such system in the country. And making necessary improvements always causes major pain. I believe an entire line is shut down this whole week to try to fix what needs fixing without having to drag it out over many weekends. For those who are off, that's fine, but there are those who are not, and they will have a nightmare of a commute -- either much longer than normal or much more expensive if they have to go outside the subway and bus system to get where they need to go.
Phil_Britt 12/27/2017 | 12:25:26 AM
Re: fixbus Train travel isn't what it once was. We took the train from Chicago to California 15 years ago. It was much cheaper (for a family of four) than flying, more relaxing than driving. But at the time, there was no limit on bags (we were gone for a couple of weeks), and rates were more reasonable. Still glad we did it once.
[email protected] 12/27/2017 | 9:04:00 PM
Re: fixbus Ariella sadly as much as I love NYC getting around can be a challenge. A few months back I was taking my local bus into NYC its usually about a 45-minute bus ride. On the last 20 minutes of the ride a car stalled in the Lincoln tunnel. You would think there is a way to address this well surprisingly no there isn't the entire ordeal took 3.5 hours literally shut down parts of Manhattan and caused a commuting nightmare for those during rush hour. It was hours until things returned to sense of normalcy. We need alternatives plans and updated infrastructure in NYC. When I traveled in Europe trains, buses and public transport were very simple and easy even if you didn't speak the language, I was not uncomfortable.
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