Uber proved long ago that it’s more than just a ride-sharing company. It’s now more of a crowd-sourced transportation platform that transports both goods and people in a variety of ways, but it still limits itself to local transportation. Even that limitation might be done away with, however, as the company was recently awarded a patent for a new service that helps users plan out their long-distance traveling, including flights, hotels, and naturally, Uber rides. Aside from the rides, Uber won’t actually provide users with the aforementioned services, it’ll simply connect them with the people who can.
Uber isn’t only about booking cars. It looks like it’s thinking of becoming a travel agent. On December 24, Uber secured a new patent that could be used to plan trips. Called “Uber Travel” in the images, it looks like a normal flight search like you would see on Expedia, but it adds Uber cars into the mix. A traveler could input their start location, date, and time, alongside a destination, and Uber would recommend an itinerary for them. The “magic” as Uber calls it in the diagram is being able to also incorporate plans for transportation. It’s a deviation from how conventional travel is typically booked segment by segment now. You start with booking your flight, then choose a hotel, then eventually a rental car or some other transit. Uber’s idea, according to the patent, is to take the trip information and show a recommended flight, hotel, and the cost of an Uber to get you from point A to point B all-in-one. In the whole process, Uber is acting as the facilitator, much like a Kayak.com, rather than the provider. These deals will probably be orchestrated by a team overseen by the patent’s author, Howard Jaffe, who is the head of Uber’s global procurement and supply chain.