To Uber­ize or Not to Uber­ize?

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Business -

Car rentals and chauf­feur ser­vices are an in­te­gral part of travel ser­vices, and constitute an im­por­tant dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion fac­tor – some­thing Kur­ban Group un­der­stood a while back when it launched Allo Taxi in 1999. Tech­nol­ogy, specif­i­cally smart­phones, has dis­rupted this sec­tor too. In 2014, the com­pany’s call cen­ter ac­counted for 80% of all taxi book­ings, com­pared to the app (15%), but in 2015, the call cen­ter’s share fell to 50%, while app book­ings rose to 40%. In this sec­tor too, com­pe­ti­tion is fierce: on one hand, ex­ist­ing online car rental ser­vices like Avis or Hertz cap­i­tal­ize on their strong brand rep­u­ta­tion, on the other hand, air­lines, ho­tel book­ing sites, and other play­ers in the travel in­dus­try also have part­ner­ships with car rental com­pa­nies or pro­pose their own ser­vices. Most dra­mat­i­cally per­haps, for a while the spec­u­la­tion was around how the rise of apps like Uber and Ca­reem would flood out “non-mil­len­nial” com­peti­tors.

Then the Uber­iza­tion hype qui­etly be­gan fad­ing. Kur­ban ex­plained that Allo Taxi does not see Uber and Ca­reem as com­peti­tors. Like many taxi agen­cies in Le­banon, Uber does not op­er­ate its own fleet or ex­er­cise con­trol over its driv­ers who work on a com­mis­sion ba­sis. “They are bro­kers, and they de­pend

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