European train travel – by Destination
- By Anila Babla
- 18th Oct 2012
We respond to your feedback and explain what you can do with the newly launched Destinations section of Loco2 - with pictures!
This time last month we launched an all-new section of the Loco2 site into beta. After some user-testing and lots of great feedback, this week we decided it was time to unleash the new Destinations section into the real world.
Destinations sets out to solve 3 main problems faced by European train travellers:
Problem 1: What’s the nearest train station to where I’m heading?
Let’s say you’re heading to a village in France to stay in a lovely cottage (you lucky person!). You want to travel by train, but you’ve no idea what the nearest train station is, or how far away it is from the village. Using Loco2′s train station finder, you can simply enter the name of the place you’re travelling to in Europe, and the closest train stations will be shown on a map.
The Station Finder is located on the Destinations homepage as well as at an individual country level. You can zoom in and out of the map to reveal more stations. Note that we display a limited number of stations at each zoom level to stop the map being too crowded (like this one).
Clicking on a station will give you the option to Search for Trains. Locations with booking guides (such as Rome) are marked with a star icon instead of a station (see below). The data that we use for this map is most accurate for train stations in France but we’re working hard to make it better all over Europe. If you spot any anomalies we’d be really grateful if you get in touch so can continue to improve.
Problem 2: How do I know the best route to my destination?
If you’ve never travelled to a particular destination before, finding information on the best train routes can be tricky. Our Booking Guides showcase the most logical, convenient and cost-effective ways to travel to popular European destinations by train, and the cheapest fares available for each journey.
Navigating between each tab on the page changes the route displayed on the map, and the instructions below the map explain the full details of each journey (for day trains and sleeper trains if applicable). The journey description includes information about individual legs and any interchanges (if the journey requires changing stations within a city). We display the cheapest fares for each journey, and the total journey time. To obtain the cheapest train tickets, use our booking reminder service to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale (see below).
Most of the routes we’ve chosen to showcase in the booking guides currently start in London, but over the coming months we’ll be expanding our coverage for our international fans.
Booking guide destinations are displayed on the Destinations homepage map with a star icon, or you can browse the full list of booking guide destinations.
Problem 3: How can I get the cheapest train tickets?
One of the most common things we hear from people is that they would be prepared to go by train if the price is right. Finding the cheapest fares can be a bit tricky if you don’t know how, and user testing has shown us that people tend to search too soon in the future or way too far in advance. Similar to air fares, train fares are yield-managed so the closer you get to the date of travel, the more pricey you can expect the ticket to be.
Although the majority of trains open for booking 90 days in advance, booking horizons can be anything from 60 days to 120 days (and even longer for seasonal trains like ski trains). And when you’re taking several trains, numerous booking horizons may apply. Loco2′s booking tool is not yet capable of explaining exactly when booking opens for each journey during the search process so we’ve come up with another solution.
We’ve created an email reminder service for all of our booking guide destinations.
Each booking guide contains a booking tool where you can enter your travel dates (either inbound or outbound). If your journey is already available for booking you can proceed straight to searching for trains, but if your travel date is beyond the booking horizon for your specific journey, you’ll be prompted to set up an email reminder. You’ll receive an email on the day that booking becomes available, be that 120, 92 or 60 days before you proposed dates, meaning that you should be able to snatch up the cheapest ticket for your journey.
And that’s it. We really hope you find the new Destinations section of the site useful, and that you keep leaving us your feedback so we can keep improving.