Started as a marketplace for filling seats, Zimride has reached more than 300,000 users and has become the exclusive social transportation network for more than 100 universities, providing the company the ability to reach more than 2.5 million students nationwide. Following the investment of $6.2 million in venture capital last August, Zimride recently expanded its reach by listing seats on motorcoaches.
The idea to begin providing motorcoach ticketing on its website came to Zimride after creating a ticketing system for one of its partners, the University of Colorado- Boulder, who operated a ski shuttle and wanted to find a way to sell tickets to its students.
“We started building this ticketing system for them and realized we have a lot of activity between the Bay Area and the L.A. area; we have a lot of colleges and universities in Southern and Northern California in our network,” explained Logan Green, co-founder/CEO at Zimride. “After we had this bus ticketing feature already built, we approached CAShuttleBus about including their S.F. to L.A., L.A. to S.F. inventory on Zimride. Because we have more people looking for rides than offering rides on the network, it was a really natural fit. We had this pent up demand and they had this extra inventory, so as soon as we started listing their seats on the service, they started selling like crazy.”
Since offering seats on its site in December of last year, Zimride has helped increase CAShuttleBus’ revenue by $1,000 a day on two of its line runs. The tickets are sold at the same rate the operator typically charges, with Zimride taking a commission on every ticket sold. The seats are sold not only to Zimride’s university partners, but its private and corporate customers as well. By the third week of March, the partnership even helped the bus operator sellout 15 of its routes.
Due the success of its partnership with CAShuttleBus, Zimride is in the midst of expanding the sale of motorcoach tickets on other popular routes, including from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It is also currently discussing several partnerships opportunities on the east coast, according to Green. The company also continues to work with its partner universities.
“The universities are usually most interested in getting the lines they run listed on the service, so that’s our main interaction with the institutions themselves,” Green explained. “For example, we’ve worked with both Stanford University and the University of Michigan to sell seats on their airport shuttle runs that they provide.”
One last major perk of the program for operators partnering with Zimride is the company assigns a dedicated account manager to market the service to its university targets.
“We’re investing to everything from offline media — press, billboards, flyers, street teams — to online marketing and social media,” said Green. “Essentially one of Zimride’s core offering is our internal marketing capability as a service to get from point A to point B. Zimride introduces all the users to the different options, whether that be riding with an individual or taking a bus. The net result is we’re bringing a new source of demand for the motorcoach companies.”