Uber, the leading ridesharing technology that made ride sharing simple- held a media day in its offices in Downtown Beirut Digital District.
The objective of the event was to provide attendees with the opportunity to meet the company’s team, learn more about Uber’s operations and on-boarding process in Lebanon, as well as further familiarize them with Uber’s presence across 73 countries and more than 600 cities around the world. Since launching in Lebanon in August 2014, the company has brought the global experience to the Lebanese market, providing hundreds of thousands of safe, reliable and affordable means of transportation and economic opportunity to over 2500 driver partners that benefit from the flexibility provided through the technology.
“We live in an era characterized by on-demand technology and smartphones have made it possible to gain access to a pool of information, a service, or even a work opportunity and these are quickly developing into efficient networks connecting people in their neighborhoods, cities , countries and across the world”, stated Hamdi Tabbaa, general manager for Uber Jordan & Lebanon.
For his part, regional general manager for Uber in the Middle East, Mr. Anthony Khoury unveiled the company’s upcoming social initiative for Beirut, that will take place during the general elections day on May 6th, 2018. “On this very important date for the Lebanese population”, he said. “Uber will provide riders in Beirut with free trips using a promo-code that will be announced soon, to get to their voting stations to cast their ballots”, he adds.
Khoury also expressed the company’s keenness to build on the success it has seen already witnessed in Lebanon and further expand operations across various neighborhoods and cities. “Lebanon makes for a dynamic market and is home to a tech-savvy population, always up to date and on the lookout for the next big thing by using the latest mobile applications and technologies to improve their daily lives, and that drives us to further develop and enhance our product and services.”
The event highlighted the company’s on-boarding process. Uber driver-partner applicants must submit official documents including identification papers, a recent clean judiciary record, a taxi-specific driver’s license, compulsory insurance papers, and a vehicle license issued by the Ministry of Transport; all to be verified by Uber’s team of experts in addition to a vehicle inspection. Driver-partners undergo an on-boarding session beyond application literacy, including good conduct to road safety. Equally as important is the two way rating system built into the app. Passengers and drivers rate each other after every ride and can also easily provide feedback via the Uber app. A 24/7 customer support team is also available and ready to help with any issue.
When asked about the changes Uber has made in Lebanon Khoury said, “From the passengers perspective, Uber introduced a new method of transporting people; but 2500 taxi drivers made major shifts in their job routines because of Uber where it offered them the freedom of working ours, which was not in common. On the communication level, Uber has added a young tech flavor to communication. We came in a young spirit through campaigns that were executed with a new approach.”
Uber has a different look at competitors as well. Khoury explains, ” Competition is important and healthy especially when penetrating a raw market. And it keeps us and other competitors pushing the boundaries of creativity. I believe Uber technologies give us the ability to do what others can’t. We will continue to utilize our technologies to continue innovating.”
In Lebanon, several taxi services have developed mobile apps to enhance their offering, but Uber does not consider those services a major threat. “Taxi companies do not have the technology, they offer a method for their customers to get in touch with them. We consider them as substitutes, that need more technological knowledge. Uber is a technology company and not a taxi service, and that’s the major misconception that makes Uber different”.
Uber plans to enhance their communications strategy to clarify operations to the average user to avoid any misconception or doubt.”This was probably due to the lack of communication or lack of present knowledge regarding Uber drivers’ profiles”. says Khoury.
By the end of the year, Uber plans to expand to major cities other than Beirut, Metn and Keserwan to reach more areas, in an attempt to reduce the traffic crisis that Lebanese drivers suffer from.