I'm A Product Guy.

Good, bad, great, all products can be better.

If you’re like me, you slightly obsess over every product you come across and are either impressed and inspired by an amazing experience or deeply disappointed by a total miss.  I can’t keep this ecstasy or misery to myself so there’s usually some rant which follows.

A Travel Friendlier Uber

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:

  1. 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.       

  2. 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.   

  3. 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.

Evaluation Criteria

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.  

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.


Uber Booking With Expedia Notifications

Expedia is the hub for real-time trip data, from flight information to hotel location and check-in time.  This initiative adds Uber booking through Expedia app notifications.  How does this work?  An initial use case is the “airport to hotel” flow.  Once the flight lands, the Expedia app sends a notification to request an Uber to the destination hotel (also known by Expedia).  This request notification remains in the lock screen, at the fingertips, until the user dismisses it.  The expedia notifications allows Uber to be situationally aware of the traveler’s experience.  It’s crucial to send the request before the traveler exits the terminal and sees the taxi stand.  At that point, Uber is out of sight and out of mind.  There’s also some delight to the Expedia traveler who doesn’t have to fumble around with typing in the correct hotel destination, for example arriving at the wrong Marriott in Seattle (which may or may not have happened to me).  Also this could be extended to hotel only travelers (who may have booked flights with another service); cruises; and “things to do” experiences all based on travel time to known destination.

Earn Expedia+ Points with Uber Rides

This initiative allows Expedia+ Loyalty members to earn points when riding with Uber.  An exclusive will make Uber a more attractive alternative to other ridesharing services and taxis.  How does it work?  Expedia+ members link their accounts to their Uber account and earn points whenever the ride with Uber.  The offers would start with Expedia+ members (like with similar Expedia+ partner programs) but could extend to all members.

Highlight: This initiative offers an added incentive to earn double points during an Expedia trip.

Airport Driver Specialist

Like George Clooney in “Up In The Air” road warriors have their flight routine set down to their shoes to ensure a swift pass through security.  For most other travelers, making their flights can be the most stressful part of the trip.  Uber Gold Drivers know their cities better than anyone else and will find the fastest route possible.  This idea has already been tested with Starwood partnership and black cars.  If needed we can have drivers apply for this status and earn more for these rides (consider supply side).  This initiative offers Expedia customers to book an Uber Gold Certified Driver, matching concerned travelers with navigation experts.  The ride can be scheduled anytime within 3 hours of departure time based on Uber ride length.  This is not available for Uber Pool.

Next time we’ll dig into one of these option, spoiler alert, it’s the Uber CityPass!  In the meantime, check out this press release, fake news much?  yep.

Press Release

Uber and Expedia Launch, Uber CityPass - Uber Flat Fares Packs For Expedia Travelers

Expedia and Uber offer travelers to book ahead and save.   


SAN FRANCISCO - July 26, 2017 - Uber today announced the launch of Uber CityPass with Expedia, enabling travelers to book Uber Flat Fee packs ahead and save.   

“Uber Expedia CityPass removes the stress of driving in an unfamiliar city as well as the hidden expenses of hotel parking, fuel, and tickets associated with car rentals” said Uber Head Of Partner Products, Garrett Gaudini.   He went on to add, “This makes Uber an attractive option over renting a car on trips to major cities.”

Uber CityPass is a set of flat fee ride packs available on the same page of the Expedia trip checkout as Rental Cars.  Expedia customers simply select the pack that works for them based on their trip duration and plans.  

Uber CityPass is available immediately in for Expedia travelers booking trips to Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Washington D.C. with the London and Paris expected next month.  If your final destination city offers Uber CityPass, it will display above the rental car options in the checkout flow.  The Uber Expedia CityPass packs are available from Expedia.com and the Expedia mobile app (iOS and android, then Microsoft).  

Expedia Uber CityPass packs are available for UberX with 5, 10, and 20 ride options.  There’s a fee to unlock the flat fares and pricing slightly varies by city.  

Aaron Price, Chief Marketing Officer, Expedia explains “we’re excited to offer the Uber CityPass to our customers who want to make arrangements ahead of time but don’t want the risk of driving in an unfamiliar city.”  

Travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, notes Uber is already more convenience than renting a car.  Many "rental car centers are not at the airport, they’re miles away.”  Besides the extra time spent picking up and returning the vehicle there’s the hunting for gas to avoid paying a steep price for returning a less-than-full tank.”  The Expedia Uber CityPass packs bring this convenience to Expedia customers with the added benefit to book ahead and save.