Kalanick and Garrett Camp started a company in San Francisco that would change the landscape of hired transportation as we know it. The company known as Uber operates in more than 50 countries today, offering the public a version of taxi services with a decidedly 21st century spin. However, is Uber truly the best option when it comes to conveyance? Below, we’ll investigate why that may not be the case, especially for corporate events planning.
How Uber Operates
Perhaps what makes this company such a revolutionary idea is that it blends several concepts, some of which are very much en vogue in the current milieu. First, it borrows from the concept of ride-sharing. This appeals to a number of people who are seeking a way to be more environmentally responsible and have eschewed owning a car. In many cases, because owning a car isn’t always cost-effective or feasible for those who live in cities, Uber fills a niche in the market demand for transportation.
The next novel concept Uber capitalized upon was the fetish for apps on smart phones. It could be said that Kalanick and Camp recognized this secondary niche market and brought it together with the need for urban ride-sharing sensibilities. These two concepts combined with the fact that almost any driver with a decent automobile and a clean driving record can register as a driver for the company allowed them to offer a lower rate. There are hidden catches with this, but we’ll address that in a moment.
In the simplest terms, the Uber app allows someone in need of transport to submit a request. That request is then transferred via the app to the driver nearest the location of the person needing a lift. The passenger is charged a rate, which is often lower than conventional taxi services. However, the company openly implemented a policy known as Surge Pricing. During times of greater demand, they shift the rates upward, charging a higher amount for the same service.
The company has fielded protests from many city governments, as well as taxi driver unions, which feel Uber is using unfair or illegal business tactics and taking advantage of citizens, sometimes even placing them in danger, considering that they are not bound by the same protective provisions formal taxi companies must abide by for the safety of both their drivers and passengers.
Why It Might Not Be the Best Option
When it comes to business conventions, cost is definitely a factor. However, even if Uber can offer an overall lower rate for those attending a business convention or other corporate events, they aren’t really equipped to provide the level of service required. In brief, while there are many drivers employed on a loose basis with the company, corporate events require large-scale transport all at once. The Uber app simply isn’t structured for such massive coordination needs. As well, for corporate events, consistency of appearance does matter. Since anyone can be an Uber driver, the motley fleet that would convey company employees to their destination might appear startling.
The way Uber has structured its operations—utilizing many small passenger vehicles broadcast throughout a city’s area—makes it incompatible for the needs of corporate events. Most of Uber’s drivers don’t have access to large vans or aren’t appropriately licensed, as drivers for a formal van service would be. Even if it could be coordinated for timely and synchronous transport of all the individuals attending a corporate event, there are other downsides to consider.
Uber’s use of price surges during peak times is unpredictable and not well-communicated to customers. Corporate events or conventions would certainly constitute a peak in demand, but how much would the rates be increased? How would this impact a company’s decision to use the service? Would individual members have to negotiate between each other to split the fare, while one person bore the charge on their account?
Overall, while Uber is a business plan of incredible ingenuity, tapping into a niche market for individual or small-scale transportation, there are issues with considering the service for corporate events. For the needs of most larger company engagements, when many people require transport simultaneously—to a venue, the airport, or accommodations–van services actually make more sense.
The rates are stable and offered in advance. Services can be booked en masse and as needed. Drivers are insured and appropriately licensed, as well as protected by law, and the corporation can easily pay for the transportation, rather than having to work through many “expensed” car hire fees. Being modern is often an excellent concept, but sometimes, it pays to go with tradition.