Last week, Uber launched its UberBoat service in Istanbul. Passengers can now hail an UberBoat to take them across the Bosphorous River, which divides the European and Asian halves of the city.
Istanbul is a city known for traffic jams, ranking second worst in the world based on the number of starts and stops per mile, and ferries crossing the Bosphorous are known for long lines and frequent stops. Uber will be offering a solution to this travel problem by partnering with Turkish boat company Navette to offer speedboat rides for six to eight passengers.
This is not Uber’s first foray into utilizing water vessels for its services: Uber partnered with Boston Harbor Cruises to offer UberBoat in Boston for two weeks.
When I read these stories, I can’t help but think how brilliant these partnerships are for Navette and Boston Harbor Cruises. Offering their boats for Uber rides is such a great way to gain brand awareness for customers who may not have been familiar with them – or even boats in general, as they are likely not regular boaters but busy travelers who need a ride immediately.
As travel continues to evolve and the sharing economy continues to gain traction, it is vital that we make sure marine transportation remains a part of that evolution. The last thing we want is to get left behind in the dust.
I would encourage brands to make an effort to develop partnerships for ride sharing in a marine application if they present themselves. Seattle Boat Company is a great example of a company that found an opportunity for a ride sharing partnership and seized it. The details of their partnership can be found on p. 14 of the 2015 Best Ideas White Paper.