Uber-Omio partnership adds train and coach bookings to app – starting in the UK – TechCrunch

Uber is testing adding train and coach trips to its UK app so customers can book longer-distance ground trips through a fully integrated partnership with Berlin-based multimodal travel platform Omio.

The latter has built its own consumer-facing app for booking intercity and international travel, covering a variety of supported transportation options, in nearly a decade of operations. However, in recent years, it has been pouring resources into building a b2b product line — making its inventory available to partners via an API so they can add transportation booking options to their own apps and platforms.

According to founder and CEO Naren Shaam, Uber is not Omio’s first collaboration of its kind. But he told TechCrunch that it was the first partner to have full access to its ground shipping inventory — which currently covers more than 1,000 shipping providers in 37 countries.

“Uber is the first partner of this scale and the first to access our full ticketing API, so as a customer you can actually do everything in the Uber app – so it’s the first One in this product that we offer,” he said.

Omio’s early b2b partners include some of the transport providers themselves, such as the UK’s LNER, as well as travel search engine Kayak and smartphone maker Huawei.

The ride-hailing giant is also Omio’s largest b2b partnership to date: Shaam said the partnership will put its inventory in front of what Uber claims to be around 5 million more customers in the UK market.

While Omio’s own app includes non-ground transportation options (like ferries and even flights), he says its platform is still the strongest at booking inventory for train and coach/bus trips — which is why it’s taken from Uber start. Although Shaam hinted that there may be more. “This is the beginning of our collaboration; it will expand beyond geographic scope,” he suggested, noting that Omio’s b2b partners can “pick and choose” from the full inventory range of shipping models it supports to offer themselves customer of.

“It’s clear to me that we’re never going to be 100% only using Omio, so the company is evolving into a more data-heavy company — data and our inventory being a core asset,” he added, discussing its impact on b2b attention and what he thinks is a good way to scale a b2c business.

“We’ve spent years building very unique inventory…so actually during the pandemic…we realized that what we built – the core of the asset – was unique inventory, It’s hard to access anywhere, so we started building a team for b2b.”

From the outset, the ground transportation partnership via Omio’s API will enable Uber users in the UK to book international trains if they wish.

Although actually getting out of the country and into France may be more challenging – given the recent post-Brexit travel chaos that has hit holidaymakers at borders and airports (related to post-pandemic staffing issues), let alone continued The wage-related train strikes are off the summer… (Shaam confirmed that Omio was already seeing some disruptions in its UK data, such as users switching to short-distance travel, but said he expected the change to be temporary. )

Commenting on the partnership in a statement, Uber UK General Manager Andrew Brem said: “We are delighted to launch our new travel product this summer, providing a seamless door-to-door travel experience across the UK. Partnering with Omio will enable Accelerate our efforts to become the travel app of choice for users in the UK.”

Rides booked through Uber’s app using Omio’s API generate commissions for Omio — a portion of which is passed back to Uber, allowing it to provide customized services to customers. (The commission share was not disclosed.) It also earns revenue from Uber by licensing its technology.

In the case of Uber, it has long been expanding its core ride-hailing platform by incorporating additional features — with the goal of becoming an urban convenience hub (also known as a “super app”) where you can book rides from Everything from dinner and movies to ordering. get there.

So adding more long-distance ground transportation adds another clue to the show that could help it complete last-mile ride-hailing trips on either end of the train journey. Or (re)get some revenue from users who might switch from ride-hailing to cheaper rail or coach options, provided they can be persuaded to make those bookings in its app.

The challenge of Uber turning a profit also remains. It reported second-quarter earnings yesterday, and it still can’t claim — but it did generate another quarter of free cash flow and was rewarded by investors pumping up its share price on another positive signal, suggesting that It’s at least self-funding, so it doesn’t really burn itself out of cash.

Returning to the partnership with Omio, Shaam said the ground transportation booking functionality provided by its API will be added to Uber’s app in stages, with a basic set of features available at launch today — something he expects Uber to do in the coming months Build these functions inside.

“This is a new product from Uber, and while we’ve built up a lot of knowledge in building long-haul ground transportation over time, Uber is primarily focused on public transportation in city centers, and the use cases are very different. You have multiple tickets for long-haul Price tiers, cancellations, reservation systems, seat reservations, etc. — a distinct product from the ride-hailing product — so it will add multiple products in stages.

“So the first one will be in your ‘transit tab’ – where you can search from London to Manchester or Oxford, or even the Heathrow Express, or London to Paris on the Eurostar, you Long-distance full-travel long-distance trains or buses are available on the Uber transit product.”

“I think the full scope of the fundamental aspects of the product should exist in the first place, and I do believe add-ons came about because they bring the magic of Uber to life,” he added.

But would Uber users — who typically use the app to book quick taxi trips or hot meals — really consider using its platform to make less-impulsive purchases, like a train or bus trip to another city or region? ?

In this regard, Shaam noted that there is “high overlap” in terms of customers, although the two products are built for very different use cases – while also having some “complementary” segmentation between these respective customer segments (For example, note that Uber already has a higher percentage of business travelers among its users).So the suggestion is to have enough similarity and Differences between their platforms in order to join forces to drive new business for both of them.

Shaam wouldn’t be involved in sharing any internal estimates of how many Uber customers it expects to attract, but he did say they hope the partnership will help Omio significantly increase its penetration in the UK market – which he confirmed is not currently the bigger picture one of the markets.

He also sounded hopeful when asked if Uber would roll out the transportation booking feature to other markets, such as the U.S., while affirming that today’s rollout is a bit of a test of how users embrace it. So it remains to be seen how far this long-distance travel booking feature will fly in Uber’s digital real estate.

“Hopefully the partnership isn’t limited to the UK, it’s a new product for Uber, they need to launch in one market, test it and then hopefully depend on success – for both parties – we’re very intent on scaling it,” he added.

Omio has generally shrugged off the optimism of the COVID-19 travel freeze and pandemic disruption — announcing an additional $80 million in Series E funding in June, and reporting a rebound in demand, which Shaam is now reiterating. He remains optimistic, speaking of the size of the mobile booking opportunity that has yet to be captured, as Omio has made it the kind of intercity/long-haul travel demand that it has served its mission.

“One of the bets we’ve made during the pandemic is a huge shift from self-service kiosks [based-booking] Moving to mobile because of what’s happened with COVID-19,” he said. “It’s surprising to me that more than 50 percent of the entire rail industry is still selling tickets at the kiosks. If you really look, hotels and airlines have higher baskets – higher average baskets – and even more complex experiences that no one I’ve spoken to can recall ever being outside the internet or The offline world has booked flights, so it’s still very much an industry due to the simplicity of how train products work (by geography) and the whole thing is going to move to mobile.

“I think most of it will be mobile, our own data shows that 80% of our tickets are sold over the phone. When you compare that to other travel segments, you can’t believe it. So To me, it’s a natural trend that COVID-19 has accelerated — so we can safely bet; more products and more links to services will accelerate the shift to mobile.”

He suggested that mobile apps versus kiosk-based bookings could entice travelers by helping them beat (at least partially) the queues, or avoid not being able to even use outdated ticket-office machines that may not even support the user’s local language The user-friendly interface is frequently upgraded.

You could say Omio’s post-pandemic vision for its travel business is “forward and upward” and Outwards” – a strategy to spread its utility widely by integrating into various other apps (or super apps) that travelers may want to use to get where they need to go. And Shaam confirms it is working on further b2b Partnerships.

“Our b2b business goals are very similar to SaaS,” he added. “You plug it in once and then it – hopefully – increases annual recurring revenue, we just add more partners in different verticals … parallel industries and give them a portion of our revenue, so the economy is very responsive to anyone who wants to Also attractive to people who want to sell shipping, but don’t necessarily want and don’t necessarily have the capital… Struggling to rebuild 1,000 integrations in 37 countries because it’s a single API with less than one delay Seconds. You plug into Omio, and you plug into our entire ecosystem.”

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