We shouldn't be too surprised, considering Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi was previously the CEO of Expedia Group. But technical questions will remain over how a ride-hailing and food delivery app can transform into a superapp so quickly.
Ride-hailing and food delivery app Uber has its eyes on the “seamless journey” with plans to add flights, trains and even hotels.
The new features will first be piloted in the UK, and follow the addition of Uber Explore last month — a new platform that offers live events, restaurants and other activities.
The decision would signal a turnaround on the comments its CEO made at Skift Global Forum in September last year. “The superapp strategy is more of an Asia strategy,” Dara Khosrowshahi said. “At this point, we believe separate apps for consumers is the right way to go. But we’ll make it seamless and magical for users to jump between apps.”
Since Khosrowshahi spoke at the New York event, AirAsia (or Capital A as it rebranded to) has doubled down on its superapp strategy in Southeast Asia. It has started selling a new subscription plan for flights and food delivery to customers in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Also speaking at Skift Global Forum, Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde predicted that a Western global superapp for travel would emerge. “It may be owned by Google, Facebook or Alibaba, but it will be a superapp and we’re trying to become that,” he said on stage.
Uber may have been planning this for some time, as it was only granted a 30-month license extension to operate in London last month. The UK has also dropped nearly all Covid-related restrictions.
“Everyone values the freedom to make travel arrangements in a simple and convenient way, which is why we’re excited to become a one-stop shop for all your travel needs,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for UK, northern and eastern Europe.
Rail and coach bookings are reportedly launching later this summer, flight bookings later this year, and hotel reservations in 2023. It will also roll out nationwide car rentals on the app. While commissions from selling different types of content stand to be huge, the big question will be how it navigates integrating so many different booking capabilities.
UPDATE: This story was updated when the new plans were announced.
Full Video: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Skift Global Forum 2021
Uber in recent years has been offloading operations in geographies where it can’t compete. Its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is an Expedia board member, knows that Expedia’s Vrbo, too, can’t launch a frontal assault against the larger Airbnb, but has to invest into its strength. That’s worked to a degree.
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Photo credit: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaking with Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal at Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 22, 2021.