Have you ever been in a situation where you have waited for almost an hour and no matter how much you wave, you just cannot seem to get a taxi and in that moment , you just wish that one out of the many cars that pass you would just stop and give you a lift? Or have you ever thought of putting your driving skills to good use and at the same time, earn some extra cash by being a taxi driver for a day?
Well, with Uber, now you can! Uber is a ridesharing service that uses a smartphone application to connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. Customers use the app to request rides and track their reserved vehicle’s location. There are many functions that makes Uber so attractive. Firstly, passengers do not have to provide their exact location if they don’t know the address. The app uses gps location to track down the exact location of the passenger and the app will locate the closest driver such that the ride will appear within minutes, preventing long periods of unnecessary waiting. Furthermore, transactions are cashless. Once you arrive at your destination, the fare is automatically charged to the credit card on file. Passengers can also retrieve a fare quote prior to riding the car just by keying in the pickup location and destination. Lastly, to increase efficiency, passengers also have the option of spliting the fare with other passengers through the app. The application was such a success that as of 2014, just 5 years after it was founded, Uber was available in 37 countries and 128 cities worldwide, and was valued at US$18.2 billion (NYTimes, 2014)
Peer-to-peer marketplaces like Uber are redefining the way people travel by establishing new services that forgo traditional providers in favor of individual or community-based transactions. By connecting like-minded people around shared needs, affinities and experiences, these collaborative business models promote local authenticity, while offering more cost-effective and efficient options around essential aspects of travel like transportation, accommodation and internet access (PSFK, 2014).
Another example of how crowdsourcing helps customers seek solutions for common travel problems is CrowdRoaming. CrowdRoaming is a startup that is working to give users 100 percent free internet access while traveling overseas. The company aims to bring the sharing economy to mobile roaming by letting locals share their WiFi with travellers, and vice versa, when they themselves go overseas. The goal is for travelers to have access to a wide network of free data when they travel, and all they need to do in return is offer up their own WiFi network to fellow travelers when they are back home (PSFK, 2014).
Being an avid traveller myself, I think it is amazing that people are leveraging on the wisdom of the crowd to make day-to-day events simpler and more efficient. Fast taxis and free WiFi; you have just made my day. Can you think of any other unique ways in which crowdsourcing has helped the travel/tourism/transportation industry?
“How Crowdsourcing Is Taking the Headache Out of Travel” PSFK. N.p., 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
“Why Uber Might Well Be Worth $18 Billion.” NYTimes. N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.