Uber is a great example of using technology to disrupt the travel space. The airlines (and to a lesser degree, hotels) have been slow to innovate. Given, it’s harder to change technology in a business with as many moving parts as an airline. Not so in the taxi/car service industry.
Uber is a service that allows you to schedule and pay for a car service in a variety of major metropolitan markets. The website currently lists 38 cities where you can use Uber to help schedule your car.
They’re also currently offering a $20 credit towards your first trip when you sign up as a new member.
You can download an app to your iPhone or Android device, or use their mobile website to schedule. For my recent trip I used the iPhone app and found it very easy to schedule both trips. This was a last-minute decision to try it as the hotel I was staying at had no shuttle availability at all that morning (more on that later) so I was learning about Uber on the fly.
It only took a few moments to enter a credit card and get set up. They have a nifty feature that will use your phone’s camera to scan your credit card. This will make some people a bit nervous but it is efficient. Then, I went ahead and pinned my location and scheduled my ride.
The app told me my ride would be there in 10 minutes. I had heard that I would be able to see my car on the way by looking at the update screen but that wasn’t the case. A few minutes later I checked the status again to find out the arrival time had gone up a couple minutes.
This could have potentially caused a bit of panic but I’m one of those folks who shows up at the airport disgustingly early. I waited a couple more minutes and then just hit the “Call Driver” button at the bottom of the screen to figure out what was going on. My phone rang right away and I was connected with the driver. He was actually right next to the hotel, just figuring out exactly where I was. I suspect this had something to do with a lack of connectivity in and around the hotel that may have caused a bit of a snafu with identifying my location.
Both cars I got were clean, the drivers polite. One was a black sedan, the other an SUV. Once I arrived at the airport it was a quick tap on my phone to finalize the transaction and rate my driver. I was e-mailed a receipt shortly thereafter. Easy peasy! Why did I wait so long to try it?
Shortly after this experience there was a software update to the app. I updated and then tried to use the software again at Dulles airport. The interface was easier to understand and very clearly illustrated all the cars in the area and how long my wait would be.
This app has now become a staple on my phone. I don’t take a ton of taxis but they’ll all be Uber now. If you haven’t signed up, you can do two things to get started with free Uber credit:
1. Use my referral link to get $20 free when you sign up. I do get a referral credit but this is the best offer I’m aware of right now, better than the $10 sign-up offers I’ve seen in the past.
What are you waiting for? Don’t be like me and drag your feet. Use Uber for your next taxi/car service ride.