I just spent a great weekend in Canberra, Australia’s capital, as a part of the Human Brochure activity — a campaign organized by Visit Canberra to get people discussing and promoting the city on social media. As one of the “VIP activities”, my family went to the Cockington Green Gardens miniature village, which was celebrating its 35th anniversary. The son of the owner (who is heavily involved in the business) was our host - it was a really interesting and educational evening, and we had the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions.
Currently, Cockington Green Gardens has no mobile app, and very little presence in the virtual world. I asked if they had thought about a mobile app (someone else asked about audio tours), but their small budget means that this is not possible at present. The value of such an app was brought home by the huge amount of information that the owner’s son passed on to us — such as the fact that the roof in the image below has 50,000 tiles, all of which were laid by hand at a rate of 500 to 1,000 per day — most of which is beyond the reach of most visitors.
It was just a matter of time. They started with taking people from point A to point B. They gave us some glimpses of what might come by dropping off ice cream and litters of kittens. Uber became (and continues to become) incredibly efficient by matching supply and demand, all from the mobile device. How successful? A valuation of $3.4B back in August 2013.
Some may argue (and I got this question yesterday from a journalist) "they could have done this without mobile services." I disagree. Mobile has added a level of convenience and improved the customer experience dramatically. Convenience. Convenience. Convenience. Uber has embraced what we call the mobile mind shift and is expertly serving customers in their mobile moments - a concept explored in depth in our upcoming book.
Uber (and similar services) have grown the overall business for private car transportation. What are they cannibalizing? I haven't done this analysis, but for me - I drive less and spend a lot less on parking. Do I spend more on Uber than I would have on parking? Probably, but they are so enjoyable to do business with. (See our customer experience framework).
- Mobile phones (subsidized) are relatively cheap - or at least affordable as a cost of doing business for your typical driver. Dedicated hardware isn't.
- A mobile app for the drivers (and now cyclists) pinpoints exact pick-up locations PLUS shows the hotspots for demand based on time of day, location, weather, holidays, local events, and probably a hundred other factors. There is no other way to communicate easily to drivers where they should wait to pick up rides.