Uber is less a transport provider and more the link between buyers and sellers in an on-demand market place, according to Jean-Pierre Mondalek, general manager, Uber UAE.
Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market, he said it will continue to experiment in other sectors, such as food, logistics and health (eg delivering vaccinations). “It’s not only about getting from A to B but removing stress and being more productive,” he said.
Uber’s reach now stretches across 310 cities and 55 countries and it records one million trips a day – but its global expansion hasn’t been without controversy.
The South China Morning Post recently reported that two home-grown firms offering taxi-hailing services were raided by law enforcement officers, following a similar crackdown against the China offices of Uber in the past two weeks.
Mondalek praised Dubai however, and the RTA for embracing competition, and highlighted its Smart Taxi app as a good example of educating the consumer about new technology. “The nice thing about this part of the world is you’re not dealing with old legislation and they’re keen to embrace best in class and smart mobility,” he said.
He said it tries not to get “bogged down with competition” and tries to constantly innovate, hence the targeting of new sectors, and deals such as the tie-up with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, providing SPG members with 1 starpoint for each $1 spent, which will drive loyalty.
Uber’s rise is also keeping other established transport providers on their toes.
Richard Bowden, interim VP Sales at Hertz International, said it is placing more focus on mobile within its business and monitoring the mobility space closely.
It remains to be seen whether the new technology will spell the end of the traditional showroom but for now, Bowden believes the two can co-exist. Hertz also targets repeat customers through its Gold Plus rewards programme.
“Potentially we will have less physical locations in the future, which means you could deliver cars closer to where people are,” he said. “People have been forecasting that for a while but we’re not in that position.”