Joe picked me up this morning. I had to catch the early red eye flight, so I was pleased that I could rely on him. Most people at that time are not really morning people, but the conversation was a good one. I made it to the airport in good time and I didn’t have to worry about parking. Joe knew exactly where to drop me off. As I waved goodbye, he shouted, “Don’t forget to rate me.”
Uber really has made a difference to the stale taxi service.
Over the past few years we have seen the likes of various Sharing Economy initiatives popping up. It started with the likes of eBay and Craigslist, which I guess at the time, could have been considered online pawn shops or online classifieds. Consumers jumped at the opportunity to sell second-hand products to other consumers and skip any corporates or red tape in between. These sites have grown over the last while and they continue to be popular.
But, in the last year or two, the introduction of Uber and Airbnb has considerably changed and challenged these existing collaborative consumption ideas. They have stepped it up, improved the ideas and have made it advantageous to both themselves and the consumer.
We all know and are able to see what this is doing to traditional business, especially those trading in the taxi or rental space. The pricing is now more competitive and there are more options to choose from. The demand and supply has changed, which means consumers can be pickier. Business is no longer competing with business, but rather with a multitude of consumers who can offer the same thing. Business as we know it has had to change.
How has this impacted my experience though, as an individual? Once again I’m using technology to navigate my way, to find a taxi, to find a place to stay. Am I more anti-social than ever? For some time now, the advent of technology has been getting a lot of flack for being impersonal and making people anti-social to some extent. Is this really the case?
No. Peer-to-peer, person-to-person, consumer-to-consumer, we are more connected than ever. And we are no longer solely relying on a business to guide us, but we are rather using contact and conversation with another human being to complete a transaction. Technology is our enabler, not the disabler. This technology is giving us the opportunity to be more personal.
My ride into the airport this morning was a better experience; it was more personal. The service was great, he opened the door for me and helped me with my bags, he engaged in conversation and read the cues to see whether I actually want to even talk or not. Yes, he may get a rating from me at the end of the trip, which will affect his opportunities going forward, but is this a bad thing?
Take Airbnb for example, they have given us the opportunity to connect with people all around the world, to stay in someone’s home and to really have a personalised experience. It is enabling human interaction; it is more “homely” and guess what, it probably costs us less. Yes, we will all get rated after our stays but this only makes the service and experience better.
Technology has enabled and caused this. We are moving from big business to small business, from depersonalisation to human interaction and from faceless efficiency to personal conversation.
So, here’s to renting out that room in your house, having a good conversation with your taxi driver and selling a prized possession only to keep in contact with it’s new owner; all this over your mobile phone and through the Internet.
Hailey Ruthenberg is a strategic planner at OKLB.
Image: Uber South Africa / Twitter @Uber_RSA
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to email@example.com.