Uber in the Air

Urban mobility. What is it, and how can we achieve it? Consider what would happen by taking transportation off the road – and moving it into the air. Several companies, including Uber, are working on new initiatives for flight-based transportation. Using electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOL), Uber’s goal is to develop transportation that makes lives easier, commutes shorter, and cities cleaner.

Working with a number of different companies and governments, Uber is developing a long-term strategy and infrastructure for drone-based air transportation. In a partnership with Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer, Uber announced a joint venture called Uber Elevate to develop small VTOLs. On-demand aviation would change commuting considerably. A network of VTOLs could provide rapid transportation between, and within, cities.

Instead of driving hours on the ground, a commute becomes only minutes in the air. For example, the average San Francisco resident spends roughly 230 hours/year commuting between work and home! In Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles, California, residents spend an entire seven working works each year commuting! In other countries, the estimated commute time is even longer – Mumbai has an average commute time of 90 minutes. Long commutes raise stress levels, absorb valuable resources, and cut short our free time.

Want a ride?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How much time do they spend commuting each work to work and school?
  2. Show the Uber Elevate concept video: https://youtu.be/JuWOUEFB_IQ
  3. A longer video explanation can be found at: https://youtu.be/nuFSh7N0Nhw
  4. What are the students’ opinions of this new service? Would they use it?
  5. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  6. For Uber Elevate, who is the target market?
  7. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  8. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?

Source:  Brandchannel.com, Reuters News Service

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Consumers’ Favorite Brands

Brand reputation is critical to organizations. And, while brand value and reputation can be measured in various ways, The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) has evaluated the public’s perception of companies’ reputations since 1999. The study starts by surveying the consumers’ top of mind awareness of companies that have excelled, or failed. Then, the most visible companies are evaluated on six dimensions of attributes to determine a ranking. The six dimensions of corporate ranking are:

  1. Social responsibility
  2. Product and services
  3. Vision and leadership
  4. Emotional appeal
  5. Financial performance
  6. Workplace environment

The annual study began with a nomination phase where 4,244 U.S. adults were asked:

  1. Of all the companies that you’re familiar with or that you might have heard about, which TWO – in your opinion – stand out as having the BEST reputations overall?
  2. Of all the companies that you’re familiar with or that you might have heard about, which TWO – in your opinion – stand out as having the WORST reputations overall?

In the ratings phase, an online survey asked 25,800 U.S. adults to rate two of the companies with which they were “very” or “somewhat” familiar. Approximately 300 ratings were collected per company.

The results are interesting.

Top 10 – BEST Bottom 10 – WORST
1.      Amazon

2.      Wegmans

3.      Tesla Motors

4.      Chick-fil-A

5.      Walt Disney Company

6.      HEB Grocery

7.      UPS

8.      Publix Super Markets

9.      Patagonia

10.  Aldi

90. United Airlines

91. Halliburton

92. Goldman Sachs

93. Experian

94. BP

95. Monsanto

96. The Trump Organization

97. Wells Fargo & Company

98. Weinstein Company

100. Takata

What is your opinion?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of branding.
  2. Poll students with the same two questions that Harris used: What two companies have the BEST reputation, and what two companies have the WORST reputation.
  3. Tally the results on the board and ask students to rate the top best and worst on the six attributes, using just their opinions and current knowledge.
  4. What are the results?
  5. Show the Harris Poll report: https://theharrispoll.com/reputation-quotient/#rq
  6. A video is available: https://tdameritradenetwork.com/video/77694950-7dfc-4ae3-bd25-86ab04d63406

Source:  The Harris Poll, USA Today, other news sources

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Uber Autonomous Car Accident

Autonomous cars have clocked thousands of hours and millions of miles without having an accident. In fact, one of the original reasons for developing autonomous cars was to lower automobile accident rates. (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016 more than 37,000 people died in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. alone.)

Yet, despite all the precautions, technology, testing, training, and resources, an autonomous car operated by Uber (with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel) hit and killed a pedestrian on a street in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first reported pedestrian death that is linked to autonomous driving, and a stark reminder that the technology is still in an experimental stage. Although the technology has been around now for close to a decade, there are many unpredictable situations that the cars have not yet been programmed to handle. Many of these situations also present ethical dilemmas, as well as life-and-death decisions.

Uber has suspended testing the autonomous cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. Toyota has also suspended its autonomous driving program.

What will be the impact on the public perception and the technology?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of autonomous cars with students.
  2. Show a video from Uber that explains its autonomous car project: https://youtu.be/27OuOCeZmwI
  3. Discuss public relations and crisis communications.
  4. Have student go online to read comments and stories about the accident.
  5. What statements did Uber make? What additional statement were made by other autonomous car companies?
  6. Did Uber take appropriate action following the accident?
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team prepare a crisis communications plan for Uber. Include in the plan: spokespeople, news outlets, key message statements, timing of responses, social media, etc.

Source:  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, other news sources

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