Uber finalized a new tool in its business arsenal today called Uber Central that enables business users to order multiple Ubers on behalf of customers or clients from a single app. It was originally announced in July.
The tool solves a problem businesses have had up to now, where they might need to order multiple cars for guests or customers, but were limited to one car per app at a time. This limitation actually makes sense for individual consumers, but is a problem for a business that wants to call several Ubers.
Business customers had been clamoring for a way to do this, and were actually using work-arounds like buying several phones and setting up multiple Uber accounts, specifically so they could order several cars at a time, Travis Bogard, Global GM at Uber for Business told TechCrunch.
The new product works in a similar way to the consumer version, except instead of ordering a single car, you can order multiple cars from the Uber Central interface. As with the consumer version, you enter the pickup location and the destination and the program figures the approximate cost of the ride. Since it’s tied to Uber for Business, each ride gets charged to the single business account automatically, and customers can take advantage of all the business back-end reporting and management capabilities in the business tool.
The passenger doesn’t need an Uber account or even a smartphone. After the car is ordered, they receive an SMS message with the make and model of the car, the license plate and the name of the driver when the car is on its way, and another when it arrives.
Customers can maintain templates, which they call “Drafts”, of commonly used routes like to an airport or train station from a hotel or to a satellite office from the main office (or whatever it happens to be).
When Central was first announced it was considered a stand-alone product, but through the Beta testing period, Uber began to see that it made more sense to deliver it as part of the Uber for Business platform, Bogard said. In fact, the company is thinking of layering on additional products on the business platform over time.
Customers, who activate Uber Central will pay a separate fee in addition to Uber for Business.