It’s the end of a great night and more often than not the SLiNK HQ team will look at one another as we hit the cold air of a British evening and simultaneously give one another a glance that says ‘Uber’ without uttering a sound.
Without a doubt, apps like Uber changed the way we travelled forever, in fact I know many people that wonder what we did before this four letter word existed but even Uber in its original form wasn’t the ultimate in great ideas. Now I have yet to be tempted by a ‘shared uber’, but those who have tried it have survived the experience. While some have simply cheapened their fare, others have made new friendships along the way. While the night bus used to be like a second night out for many, shared transport is the new way to extend the night.
Carpooling is not really a new concept, after all we do it with friends and colleagues to save energy, gas money and for camaraderie all the time – so why not do it on a larger business scale?
Here’s how it’s done – the evolution of ride sharing!
In the Beginning There Was Ride Sharing
One of the best things to come out of the enormous price hikes during oil embargos and shortages was the concept of ride sharing. As gas got way too expensive, co-workers began parking in ‘ride-share lots’ and traveling to work with co-workers who would then take a turn the following day or the following week. In this way, the cost was divided by the number of people sharing the ride and gas once again became affordable.
Cost Is Important But Not the Only Issue
But cost was not the only motivator for the rapid rise of ride sharing. Parking spaces in most cities were at a premium because they had built up to such an extent that there was no room to park thousands of vehicles each and every day. Yes, cost is factored in here as well because resourceful entrepreneurs began charging for parking space in the inner cities and that could run $20 or more a day! Parking garages went up everywhere but soon those were overcrowded as well.
Learning and Growing by Example
Consider the limited parking space in Atlanta near the Georgia Tech college campus. If you’ve ever tried to attend a baseball game in the spring, you know that garage across the street fills up quite quickly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have use of a car you could drive to the game, get out, hand it over to another driver and have one waiting for you when the game was over? With the new evolution of car-sharing, it’s not only a distinct possibility, it is something that is going to happen, is happening now, and it’s big. Really, really big. A great idea made greater by Uber and then greatest by 21st Century mobility services and automated by mobile apps.
Let’s Run That Down Again
Before going any further to see how this can impact the travel industry, let’s review ride sharing as it evolved. Gas was too expensive and the average worker just couldn’t condone spending that amount to get to and from work. It wasn’t cost effective based on current wages. Ride sharing evolved as an answer but then parking spaces became overcrowded and over-priced as well. Public transportation was an option some of the time but it wasn’t a door-to-door solution. Taxis were too expensive and too hard to get where you wanted as you needed them and were often late. Uber came along which was great, a bit less than taxi service, but not as efficient as needed. So we are now at the point of automated car-sharing mobility services and we’ll take it from here.
Rental Cars of the Future
At this point we are looking at a new era of renting a car without going through all the hassles and delays. What about a handy mobile app that you could plug all your information into complete with your driver’s license number? The app runs your info to ensure your license is valid and in good standing. The app sees which cars are available where and plugs you into them. You go to the spot, pick up the car and drive it to the pre-appointed destination you reserved.
At that point there is another driver who will take the car from Point B to where he or she is going, Point C and so on. When you are ready for your trip home or to another location at any rate, there is a car waiting for you at a designated spot near you and the process starts all over again. Ingenious isn’t it? Like Uber but so much better! You aren’t putting your life in the hands of another driver because YOU are the driver!
What This Means to the Travel Industry
Imagine as a travel agent what you could do with this technology? By establishing a B2B relationship with car fleets around the country you could make a commission on car ‘rentals’ through this new application based on old services and your customers would be thrilled to have the rental process expedited. It would be literally a seamless experience for everyone involved. Travelers will love the convenience, you will make a commission and the fleet would also make a tidy little profit. That’s a B2B relationship made in heaven.
Whether you are in the travel industry or just a traveler looking for the easiest way to get around without all the hassles of waiting on the phone or logging your way through screen after screen on a car rental site, one simple app could automate the entire process for you, take payment and tell you where to get your car. Technology of the 21st Century. Technology at its best.