Uber is launching dedicated mall pickup and dropoff points in a new partnership with Westfield across all of its 33 U.S. shopping centers. The ride-hailing company is also going to set up a special waiting lounge at Westfield's Century City shopping center near Santa Monica Boulevard, which will incorporate sleek, modern fixtures and furnishings and bring airport lounge style to the mall experience.
The partnership is an interesting one because it adds an element of "club membership" to the Uber experience, which could help the ride hailing company differentiate its offering among growing competition. It might also prove a way forward in terms of future add-on business models — as in other travel providers, you could see Uber either charging a premium membership fee (a la Prime) for exclusive access to value-add features, or rewarding frequent riders with perks.
Uber is also using the new Westfield partnership as a recruitment avenue for drivers: The new facilities will include kiosks at certain locations where drivers can ask questions in person, and also get help with their on-boarding process if they're just signing up.
Dedicated pickup and dropoff spots are also a big help for Uber in terms of making it clear where cars can and can't stop — a big driver frustration is being told to pull off in a no loading zone via the app, which can result in tickets, and this should help avoid that in some particularly high-demand pickup/dropoff locations.
Written by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch