Will Uber take over Hotel Transfers too? I can not help but wonder with news going all over the world that local taxi operators are having problems with Uber. One thing I have come to realize is to never under estimate technology. Therefore, whenever there is something new technologically and it is worth trying out, I usually do sooner rather than later. Remember when facebook first became popular, it was seen as something for the youth to socialize on. Today, every serious company has an FB page and just look at the below graph showing the age distribution of FB users today.
My first experience with Uber was when I was at work (I work in a hotel), this Briton guest walks in, and we begin to have some small talk. He was a business traveler and required to be going around the city for meetings. He asked whether Uber is effective here in Nairobi, “I am not sure it even works here, never heard of anyone using it.” I answered him with a blank face. That is when he began to show me how it works on his phone. “It’s actually a very smart app,” those were the first words he said about Uber as he opened it.
He opened the app and showed me all the Uber cabs that were around us. If he would request for a cab, one of them would come to pick us up. I wondered what if two of them came at the same time. The explanation was, when the request is sent, the highest rated driver nearby will see the request first and it will give him some seconds for him to accept it. If he does not, then the nearest driver to the pick up location will see it. Riders star rate the drivers after they have their rides. The lowest rated drivers will see your request among the last ones therefore; it will be quite hard for you to get a bad driver.
The thing that most people do not know is that the drivers also rate the riders. If you are a nuisance to the drivers and get low ratings, it might become difficult for drivers to accept your requests for rides. It is a two-way traffic and I think that is a great thing.
After seeing all it can do, I agreed it is a very smart app. I downloaded it for myself and have used it a couple of times now. It is actually cheaper than the local taxi operators are and I like the fact that you do not have to negotiate for long periods just to get a price.
The only down side I have noted with Uber is the fact that when installed in some phones, you must register the account with a credit card. For me, I was given the option of cash or credit card. If it wants to really penetrate the Kenyan market, then for now they must not insist on credit/debit card in doing registration or payment . Only a small percentage of Kenyans use cards to make payment. Or better yet, introduce mobile phone payment method such as M-pesa and Airtel money which is widely accepted here.
Below images show screen shots of estimated fares from hotels in Nairobi to various destinations.
If you are a cab user to some of the destinations shown, then you realize that Uber fares are way much cheaper than those of local taxi operators and hotel transport. For instance, the normal asking fare for a taxi in the CBD to JKIA is not less than 2000 KES going up to 3000 KES. For hotel transfers, they will charge an average of 2500 KES up to 5000 KES to go to JKIA from Nairobi CBD or its environs.
I have had a couple of guests comparing the hotel fares Vs the Uber fares when they need a cab. So, will Uber take over hotel transfers? We will just have to wait and see.