Khosrowshahi, former CEO of Expedia Group, said results of the company’s experimentation in the travel field — mostly in the United Kingdom — have been promising.
“We decided: Let’s take a leading market like the U.K. and let’s actually build in travel functionality to Uber,” Khosrowshahi said at the Skift Global Forum in New York City. “What we’re seeing is actually very encouraging results.”
He gave an example: 60% of consumers in the U.K. who have booked coach or train travel on Uber have become repeat users. And 30% who have booked flights have come back as well.
“For us to actually start to market travel products to them through partners at this point is, we think, a great, great opportunity, and early on … our travelers in the U.K. love the products,” Khosrowshahi said.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
What is Uber Travel?
Last year Uber introduced Uber Travel, a plan that comes as part of its super app strategy that also includes Uber Explore, among other features, in an effort to streamline and simplify travel’s end-to-end experience. In May, Uber added flight booking in the U.K. with functionality powered by Hopper.
Andrew Brem, general manager at Uber U.K., said at the time that the flight booking functionality is perfect for both leisure and business travelers.
“Our new functionality will make the booking and managing of air travel simple and stress-free, with the booking process taking as little as one minute in the Uber app,” Brem said.
Other multimodal options in the U.K. include rides on the Thames with Uber Boat and ground transport, rail and coach tickets that include options to book with Eurostar. With the combination in mind, Brem called Uber a “one-stop travel solution” in May.
Why is Uber exploring travel in the U.K. first?
Khosrowshahi said that the U.K. is one of Uber’s top markets – making it an interesting target market to explore for travel-specific ventures.
He broke it down, explaining that of the 2.3 billion trips made by Uber users each quarter, an average of 6-8% are international. And 22-24% of Uber users are traveling somewhere outside of their home market each quarter.
“So we add that all up last year, we had about 700 million trips happening on Uber, outside of your home market,” he said.
His conclusion? Uber already has a travel-focused audience within its grasp.
The company began building on its success in the U.K. earlier this year by expanding travel options with features that allow users to reserve a boat on the Greek island of Mykonos or concierge service at partner hotels around the world.
A “full-fledged” travel experience on Uber’s platform
While Khosrowshahi didn’t lay out a plan as to what the rollout of an expanded Uber Travel will look like, he made clear it’s an all-or-nothing venture.
“As we build out those experiences, we will build a full-fledged experience,” he said. “So if we can’t delight you in terms of your flight experience on Uber, we’re not going to build it, right? And … we’re very early on the journey.”
But he expressed confidence in the move to pursue travel.
“When you have 700 million people traveling on your platform and an audience that’s as loyal to us – and again we’ve got your information,” he said, pointing to how Uber can stitch together travel experiences.
“We think we can build a delightful end-to-end experience,” he said.
The Phocuswright Conference 2023