Lately Uber is in everything from autonomous cars to flying cars, even autonomous flying cars...
but they’re missing some basic use cases for travelers, running, um, flying before crawling.
Over the past few years when traveling I’ve spent less time in rental cars and more time in Uber and Lyft ride shares. For business trips, I can’t remember the last time I rented a car. For personal trips, it’s Uber from the airport and short trips like dinner and daily car rentals for the occasional exploration excursion.
Let’s pick one travel partner, Expedia, and explore how Uber could be friendlier to travelers.
Business Rationale: Why Expedia
It makes sense for Uber to find and capitalize on new partner integration opportunities with Expedia as it’s the largest OTA and operates more than 200 travel booking websites across 75 countries. Expedia has more than 350,000 lodging listings, and 500 airline listings. Major brand extensions, sites, and apps include Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, trivago, Venere.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway. Expedia offers Uber numerous partner integration opportunities to accelerate deeper penetration of travel market and augment customers’ travel experience.
There are several compelling reasons for Uber to expand the Expedia partner integrations, let’s unpack these:
Large, active install base: with 84 million MAUs to Expedia web properties Expedia offers a giant user base for Uber. With $6.6 billion of their $8.7 billion 2016 revenue in Core OTA services, Expedia offers an active install base.
Growth through new customer use cases, the travel customer experience, especially airport round trips and ground transportation during trips are an underserved slice of the overall ride pie. Expedia offers deeper penetration into travel use cases to grow riders, rides, and bookings.
Motivated partner, for a partnership to last, it must be mutually beneficial. Expedia travelers want ridesharing services and deeper integration of Uber into the Expedia customer experience will drive customer satisfaction. Furthermore, Uber revenue sharing present opportunities to augment their existing ground transportation segment. For example, for an average weekly car rental, $300, Expedia collects just $27.
Repeatable, the initiatives and integrations we build with Expedia can be replicated to other OTAs, Airlines, Hotels, AirBnB. With a limited time exclusive we can then grow this segment by rolling out these deeper integrations across the travel segment.
Expedia New Initiatives
Before digging into the Expedia initiatives, it makes sense to review basic evaluation criteria to be sure we’re meeting the stated objectives. As with brainstorming exercises it’s easy to get off target, the criteria will help with focus and prioritization.
The stated, primary goal is to increase riders, rides, and bookings, but a larger set of criteria is needed to ensure continued success. Some of these offer metrics to quantify alternatives for estimating expected impact and then tracking progress.
New Riders: Does it add new riders, would the rider have used Uber without it? Metric: count of new users from Expedia, using account phone number, email, or device ID (mobile app) to estimate the expected new users and track progress with actuals.
New Rides: Does it add new rides, would these rides have been booked otherwise? One way to grow new rides is to offer new ride use cases or replace alternative transportation options with existing Uber riders. With est. 5.5 million* Uber rides per day, does this move the needle (*based on 1 billion in 6 months). Metric: count of new rides all rides from new users would measure as new rides.
User Delight: Is there a wow factor, is the user delighted? This is crucial in creating a compelling reason to use the new initiative, beyond just buying the rides with deep discounts and other rich offers. Measure: user surveys and user study groups.
Value To Expedia: Drive business for Expedia? Does this improve their customer satisfaction, grow their user base, introduce new revenue streams, offer a competitive advantage? Measure: revenue sharing and Expedia customer surveys.
Habit Forming: Will it stick with riders? Will the integration change behavior, maybe beyond this immediate use case to make Uber the service people can not live without. Metrics: count additional rides during trips, count uplift to 3 month trailing average rides for these riders.
Growth Through Replication: Is it repeatable to grow with minimal integration work? Metrics: count of additional partnerships after the exclusivity period has expired, measure of time to roll out each new partner initiative
Increased Bookings: Does it increase bookings? While Uber is still in a high growth period to gain market share and change behavior, we don’t want to add rides at the complete expense of bookings. Metrics: bookings from this program (however it could get complicated as we factor in substitution rates, i.e. would these rides have occurred without the initiative?)
The following new initiatives are prioritized in order of how they performed against the criteria (based on publicly available information). Before giving these the green light, we’ll verify assumptions, conduct deeper analysis, and conduct user surveys (if needed and when available).
Uber Expedia CityPass, Car Rental Alternative
This initiative offers Expedia users a special Uber Flat Fare pack during the Expedia trip checkout flow. The flat fare packs have similar pricing, packaging, availability, and T&Cs as the Uber Flat Fare packs tested this year in select cities but are limited to UberX class of rides. The packs can be purchased from both Expedia websites and mobile apps, starting with expedia.com and Expedia mobile app (iOS and android, then Microsoft). Packages also include add-on fixed trips to and from the airport that don’t count against the 10 ride pack.