The “sharing economy” is going corporate.
Business travelers will now be able to book rides with Uber Technologies Inc. and pay using company accounts, expanding the potential size of the car-booking market. The San Francisco-based company is also teaming up with Concur Technologies Inc., a travel and expense management service, to make it easier for road warriors and their employers to use Uber and track claims, the companies said.
Uber’s push for corporate customers follows a deal between Airbnb Inc., a short-term room rental service, and Concur yesterday to offer rooms for business travelers. Uber and Airbnb are among a growing number of businesses making up the sharing economy. By connecting individuals with excess capacity or funds with customers seeking alternative services or cheaper deals, the startups are disrupting established industries.
Salesforce.com Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG have signed up as clients for Uber’s corporate car-booking program, according to Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business. The service, called Uber for Business, will roll out today in the U.S. and Canada and is being tested in the U.K. and France, he said. London-based bank Barclays Plc and New York-based online retailer Gilt Groupe Inc. will also be pilot customers.
Uber for Business includes tools for companies to analyze how their transportation accounts are being used. Uber, which is available in more than 150 cities in 42 countries, will roll out the business service in other markets as soon as possible, Michael said.
“We are encouraging corporations to centralize their transportation spending so that they can analyze the data,” Michael said.
The car-booking service was founded by Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp in 2009 after they couldn’t find a cab in Paris, and offers high-end car-booking services for limos and black cars. Uber also offers cheaper travel options such as the ride-sharing service UberX, and UberT, used to hail yellow cabs in New York. Customers access services using Uber’s mobile application, which connects them with drivers using location-tracking technology.
Many Uber customers were already booking rides for business travel, Michael said. The company created the corporate service after companies asked for it, he said. Uber will keep pricing and its 20 percent commission-per trip unchanged for corporate clients.
Business travelers will also be eligible for Uber’s partnership with American Express Co., which allows Uber customers to book rides using reward points and earn double points when paying for rides using their American Express credit cards.