Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber
"Over the next six months we’ll go from preservation mode to reposition mode."
Quote from Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, in an article on PhocusWire this week on Uber's full-year and Q4 earnings.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
Dara Khosrowshahi and co must be thanking their lucky stars that they had another element to the ride-hailing business that was able to prop the company up over the last year.
Uber Eats has managed to tap into the lockdown trend of delivering food to homes that cannot collect meals from their favorite takeaway restaurants.
Without that division and its solid growth and revenue numbers for 2020, Uber may well have been in some trouble - a situation that thousands of travel, tourism and hospitality-related businesses find themselves in as the industry attempts how to restart operations in early-2021.
So, in some respects, Khosrowshahi has already positioned Uber to make the best of what comes over the next six to nine months, retaining customers who took advantage of the Eats platform and gradually bringing the ride-hailing business back into service, as local travel restrictions ease.
Others brands will be months, perhaps even years, behind Uber.
There is no doubt that the availability of vaccines around the world (albeit with fairly disjointed strategies, depending on the country) is enough to give some degree of optimism for 2021.
But how companies shift from preservation to reposition mode will arguably be the most critical point so far in the year or so since the pandemic reared its ugly head in the first few months of 2020.
There will be staffing issues to consider, partnerships to evaluate and a nimble approach to operations that will be able to react to the inevitable fluctuations in the schedule of reopening and recovery.
And, of course, there will be need to be an element of luck required to put those elements in place at the right place and at the right time.
Businesses do not (or at least should not) like luck being an important factor in how they operate. But it will probably end up playing a key role in how 2021 develops for an industry that was on its knees for large parts of last year.
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