Travel Tech

As the mobile marketplace continues its seemingly never ending expansion, tourism and travel companies are looking for ever more innovative ways to engage and sell to customers via mobile platforms. The latest app to particularly strike a chord with both tourism companies and consumers is entitled Uber, and the application is already creating a great deal of buzz.

It was announced this week that the Uber app will be featured in the mobile applications of a group of some of the world's most significant travel-related companies. On Wednesday, United Airlines, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and several more besides, all announced that the Uber app would feature on their mobile apps from this date forth.

The Uber taxi app

Uber is perhaps not yet a household name, But it is already carving out a significant niche in the travel market. The application offers an on-demand car service, which can be particularly useful to foreign visitors to a particular country. United Airlines was the first company to claim that it had offered the Uber booking option via its mobile application, but now other businesses are following suit.

The rapid growth of this innovative application has perhaps been slightly stymied by some of the legislative difficulties that it has encountered. Uber has pointedly challenged the taxi industry and local transportation regulations in many cities that are part of its portfolio, and this has not been without legislative challenges for the company.

But in a sign of how serious the business is about expanding its operation, the company recently announced that it had hired former Obama administration senior advisor David Plouffe in order to assist with the Uber’s corporate image and public relations. The founder of the corporation and current CEO, Travis Kalanick, has robustly argued that a clique of large taxi companies has used both political contributions and influence to restrict competition, and that Uber represents a legitimate example of consumer choice, which even offers new economic opportunities for taxi drivers.

Corporates enthusiastic about Uber

The functionality which Uber offers via TripAdvisor is particularly interesting. Users can run the Uber app, enter the destination address that they wish to travel to, and the company claims that your Uber vehicle will be on its way within a mere tap. One can see how such a system could easily make travel more convenient for consumers, travellers and holidaymakers.

Another company which has got onboard with Uber is Hyatt Hotels. Guests that are staying at a Hyatt Hotel can log onto the hotel’s mobile application, book in the transportation, and receive an estimated price for the journey and a projected time of arrival within a matter of seconds. Again, this would seem to be a somewhat more scientific and less haphazard approach to taxi transportation than traditional methods.

United Airlines are also incentivising customers that are utilising the Internet application quite significantly. The airline will offer consumers that use Uber no less than 1,000 award miles in its MileagePlus program. This will surely be an attractive proposition for United Airlines travellers, and one which could see the app generate a significant amount of traction, particularly in its domestic United States marketplace.

As mentioned previously, Uber has run into a few legislative difficulties, and there continue to be legal wranglings related to these. But it seems pretty clear that this particular app has a very bright future, despite the apparent controversies. One might wonder why this is the case, and there is a very simple explanation for the rosy outlook.

Google and Uber's multi-billion valuation

Google has already invested heavily in Uber. Back in August, 2013, the app’s parent company held a huge funding round which was led by the venture capital arm of the world’s most popular search engine. This raised a pretty earth shattering $258 million, with the level of investment leading to Uber being valued at $3.5 billion.

Already the company is branching out into other services. Just days ago it was reported that Uber is intending to launch a same day grocery delivery service in the United States. The items are apparently competitively priced, and Uber will charge no delivery fee to bring them to your door. While this remains an experiment, it is quite clear that the founders and owners of this application have very ambitious plans for its future.

Thus, all travel companies would do well to pay attention to Uber as it is certainly an app that is here to stay. As more large companies embrace this innovative idea which has huge potential, Uber will undoubtedly become a bigger player in what is certainly a hugely valuable niche of the travel industry.

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