Google Maps Partnership Boosts European Ride-Hailing Service BlaBlaCar
Integration could help carpooling company fight off competitors in France
Online long-distance carpooling service BlaBlaCar is getting some help staying top of mind among travelers in Europe.
In BlaBlaCar’s home market of France, along with other European markets where the service operates, users can now book a ride via BlaBlaCar in Google Maps’ public transportation tab, according to Tech Crunch.
(While BlaBlaCar is available in the UK, it does not appear to be one of the countries where the service has been added to Google Maps.)
BlaBlaCar’s integration into Google Maps in France could be seen as overdue. The service has consistently ranked among the top 10 travel sites in France among desktop/laptop users, according to tracking by Médiamétrie//NetRatings and Fédération du E-commerce et de la Vente à Distance (FEVAD).
In 2017’s first quarter, BlaBlaCar ranked seventh in average monthly unique site visitors, and sixth in average daily unique visitors to travel sites in France, Médiamétrie and FEVAD found.
It also has a relatively aggressive marketing strategy. BlaBlaCar was one of France’s biggest travel industry ad spenders in 2016. It ranked sixth, behind Air France, with ad investment worth €29.7 million (about $26.8 million), according to Kantar Media data cited by CB News.
BlaBlaCar’s Google Maps integration comes as it looks to adapt to new competition in a rapidly changing transportation sector, both from digital rivals like Uber and also from the modernization of traditional options. For example, BlaBlaCar now competes with new, budget-priced intercity bus services that also present a cheaper alternative to intercity train lines.
In May 2017, BlaBlaCar began to fight back against car-sharing players like Uber when it launched BlaBlaLines, an app that connects daily commuters looking for short-distance carpooling options. However, at launch the service was only available in the Toulouse and Reims metropolitan areas.