Uber is planning to add travel booking via flights, trains and more in the UK this year to expand its ride-hailing business, The Financial Times has reported. The new service is designed to provide a "seamless door-to-door experience," so that you can book your flight, train and Uber all on the same app. To do so, the company will integrate its software with airlines, inter-city bus and rail operators (include Eurostar Channel Tunnel tips) and car rental companies, according to CNBC.
The UK is one of the company's largest markets outside the US, so the expansion is a big step. "You have been able to book rides, bikes, boat services and scooters on the Uber app for a number of years, so adding trains and coaches is a natural progression," said Uber UK general manager Jamie Heywood. "Later this year we plan to incorporate flights, and in the future hotels, by integrating leading partners into the Uber app to create a seamless door-to-door travel experience."
This "super app" strategy isn't new, as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he wanted Uber to be the "Amazon of transportation," when he first joined the company. Prior to the pandemic, around 15 percent of Uber trips were higher-margin rides to or from airports. "With COVID behind us, with this big push into new modes of transport, we want to signal that this is a very important growth lever for us over the coming years," Heywood said.
It's not yet clear to what extent Uber will compete directly with other travel booking services, but Khosrowshahi was CEO at Expedia before coming to Uber. The company might have a leg up on rivals in that it could also offer a ride from airport to hotel, essentially owning the whole process.
Uber recently announced that it would let New York City users book Yellow Cab taxis directly through its app, with passengers paying around the same as they would for an Uber X ride. The company also plans to offer a similar service in San Francisco. It's not clear yet, though, when or if Uber will offer its expanded travel booking service in the US.