Opinion

Why Uber won't crack the corporate market anytime soon

4 min read

14 August 2015

As Londoners faced a battle to get around the city during the latest tube strike, Uber once again took advantage of the situation and has been accused of hugely inflating its fares due to demand.

While Uber may have changed the way consumers use transportation, this latest behaviour will not lend the company any favours when it comes to business travellers who need a reliable service to get them from A to B in a timely and cost effective fashion. As TFL has hinted that two more tube strikes could be underway in August, it’s probably safe to say that many will be steering away from Uber when that time comes.

With the rise of Uber in the past year, industry commentators have asked the question of whether Uber would revolutionise the corporate travel market in addition to the consumer market. If a business traveller loves using Uber in his or her personal life, why wouldn’t they instinctively reach for the app while on a business trip in London? They will save their company some money, and avoid the hassle of finding a cab locally.

There are also a series of other areas in which Uber falls short of what corporate travellers expect from a ground transport provider.

There is no advanced booking service, which will put off the majority of corporate travellers who need to be sure that their taxi will be ready at 6.30 am with their engine running to get them to a flight or an important meeting on time. Worse, a recent stat revealed that 20 per cent of Uber drivers are “no-shows”.

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The unsophisticated process for screening drivers – as was highlighted by the Financial Times – also means that travel managers and HR teams will discourage their staff from using Uber owing to potential duty of care concerns.

Issues over recent weeks have included Uber customers’ credit card details being sold. According to This Is Money, trips that customers have never taken are being charged to credit cards.

Most business travellers also value a “meet and greet” service when they are being picked up by a driver at an airport arrivals hall, as it helps them to get from A to B quickly and provides reassurance in a new city. Uber doesn’t offer this.

Business travellers also need to make immediate contact with a real person if a meeting runs on or they have a change of plan.

The future of ground transport for businesses isn’t Uber. Rather, it’s finding ways to bring the best bits of Uber together with the professionalism and “white glove” service that the best taxi firms can deliver, all at a competitive price. 

They have yet to create a business strategy that is focussed on providing corporate clients with a secure online booking platform, available on web and mobile, with access to a wide selection of rigorously-vetted ground transport partners that are safe, reliable, knowledgeable and competitive.

John McCallion is CEO of GroundScope.