Uber Travel may challenge Expedia, TripCase, everyone — if it’s serious

Uber, the transportation network company, was granted a patent before Christmas for a digital interface that looks a lot like travel metasearch.

The tool would provide travel booking, just as are provided today by the online travel agencies owned by Expedia Inc., Priceline Group, and others, plus trip-itinerary management tools like the ones provided by corporate travel managers and third-parties, like Sabre’s TripCase and Concur’s TripIt.

The patent describes an “Uber Travel” portal that’s similar to what you see at most travel metasearch sites with the multi-modal addition of being able to summon an Uber ride for the so-called “last mile” of a journey.

A recommendation engine would receive data from airline and accommodation systems and, based on the traveler’s preferences, suggest one or more itineraries when the traveler clicked a “Magic!” button. The lodging could be provided from shared-economy (or consumer-sharing) lodging systems (a la Airbnb), not just hotels.

The tool could theoretically compete with TripCase, TripIt, and other itinerary management services as well, as it includes the option to add logistics-managing functions, such as for monitoring flight status and handling rebooking in the event of delays and cancellations.

Simply filing for a patent isn’t proof Uber is committed to this tactic as a business plan, of course. But the fact that every industry player seems intent on taking share from the businesses of its rivals make travel a rare, confusing field of rampant “co-opetition.”

Uber has been eager to make strategic partnerships with other travel companies.

For instance, in September, it began to offer ride request reminders whenever Hilton loyalty program members sign up to receive them on their smartphones by clicking a link on reservation emails.

It’s done a similar partnership with United Airlines.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.





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  1. Tim Wright

    We would like to contact Uber to possibly provide a technology partnership with them

  2. Evan

    We do need a shake up of the current duopoly power of OTA’s, the Internet always finds a way around the middle man unless they offer a huge value add. Current OTA are merely booking engines and don’t really provide much extra for their 15% min commission. I’m not sure where Uber will get it’s inventory from though so It may just be another affiliate like the flight booking engines.

  3. William El Kaim

    I always thought and said that 2015 will be THE year where the fourth digital revolution forces will start to hit hard the Travel ecosystem.
    In front of the assaults from new entrants or companies coming from outside the travel sector, the whole travel ecosystem is being transformed. Facebook, Google, AliBaba are just starting! GDS, of course, will still be major actors, especially by buying companies providing B2B IT services to travel operators (like Amadeus with Navitaire) and Travel Agencies, and may be soon to mobility providers (why shouldn’t they build a global CRS for coach yet?).
    The smart mobility aggregators will start “eating travel”, mainly for domestic and even regional destinations. Nobody wants to use anymore the man in the middle if it does not bring a tremendous value like door to door, real-time, mobile, multimodal search and insurance.
    We are entering the time of metasearch, powered by AI, pushing the offers has they come, based on clients context and leading to direct booking. Uber is one of the most innovative and most funded example. I will also not be surprised to see OTA buying or investing in multimodal search companies (like Rome2Rio) or GDS buying or investing in full stack booking tools (like did Travelport in Locomote or Amadeus with Pyton).
    Big Integrated TMCs will suffer a lot and will try to survice with their BIG clients, while smallest regional ones will grow commercially, especially in becoming specialists in door-to-door services and ancillary up-selling.

  4. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    In all patents there are things called wrappers. This is the analysis of the assessor. It would be VERY interesting to see what that contains. Much of this stuff is not however normally made public. Given prior art of the others – I think that could be a rather difficult thing for them to prove. I will keep an eye on this



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