Uber to add plane, train and hotel bookings in 'super app' push

Uber will make money by collecting a service fee from the bookings. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Uber Technologies' customers will soon be able to book long-distance travel on planes, trains and buses, reflecting the company's ambitions to become a travel "super app".

A pilot project being launched in Britain will integrate offers from travel partners into Uber's app "to create a seamless door-to-door travel experience", Mr Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional general manager for Britain and Northern and Eastern Europe, said in a statement.

"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," he said. Eventually, Uber will also offer hotel bookings.

Uber will not provide the travel service itself, but will team up with third-party booking agencies to facilitate the sale of tickets. While Uber did not disclose which ticketing platforms it will partner with, it could wind up working with major aggregators such as Booking.com and Expedia, where Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi served as CEO before assuming the helm at Uber.

Uber will make money by collecting a service fee from the bookings.

The pandemic fundamentally changed Uber's business model when it was forced to pivot heavily into food delivery to cushion a steep decline in demand that hit its core ride-sharing segment. The travel pilot will significantly bolster Uber's transport offerings and illustrates the company is charging forward with Mr Khosrowshahi's goal of transforming the San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant.

Train and bus bookings will be available on the app this summer, with flights and hotel reservations potentially launching later in the year.

Uber recently won permission to operate in London for another 30 months after meeting requirements on drivers' rights. The decision provides Uber more stability in Britain, one of its biggest markets, after years of sparring with regulators over worker classification.

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