Travel is becoming more closely integrated with mobile
Uber’s filing for a new patented feature, called Uber Travel, could have serious implications for the future of booking applications as well as ride-sharing services, underscoring consumer demand for consolidated travel offerings on mobile.
Uber, a platform that saw considerable traction in brand partnerships and customer outreach in 2015, is now jockeying for a big role in the travel and hospitality sector in a move that could alarm booking apps and online travel agents. The company filed a patent on December 24 for the “Uber Travel” tool, which could be leveraged to plan trips.
“Serving as the travel intermediary is an enviable position for any company,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director of mobile at Ping Mobile, New York. “Travel intermediaries get a substantial cut of transactions without having to actually operate the travel service.
“Creating a stronghold in the travel booking space is no simple task; the hospitality landscape is particularly competitive,” she said. “However, Uber’s position as the go-to for car bookings can be leveraged to provide complete travel itineraries, providing added value to consumers.
“If successful, Uber Travel can introduce a massive new revenue stream to the company.”
Master of all trades
Uber, frequently known as the ride-sharing service to beat in most major U.S. cities, is angling to make the travel experience even more streamlined and seamless for users via the Uber Travel feature. The patent shows an image of what appears to be a standard flight search, but changes the equation by enabling customers to book transportation to and from airports in the same search query.
The company’s abstract explains that it assigns a travel itinerary to each user, which will identify scheduled flights. If a consumer has not yet booked a ride to the airport on the day of the flight, the travel tool will send a notification to his or her smartphone once the scheduled flight has landed at the airport.
The new feature will also recommend itineraries for consumers by asking them to input their starting location, date and time of departure, final destination and information regarding return date and location.
While Uber will display the usual OTA-like suggestions of a recommended hotel and flight, the platform is hoping to differentiate itself from competition by including the price of an Uber ride that will bring customers from their starting location to the airport.
Uber claims it will work in tandem with airline companies and consider aspects such as a flight’s on-time performance and a guest’s penchant for window or aisle seating. It will recommend accommodations from hotel brands as well as private rental marketplaces, such as Airbnb.