Come 2017, Uber riders and drivers can look forward to new services, innovative product enhancements by the ride-hailing platform, as well as a more humanised Uber brand.
Warren Tseng, general manager of Uber Singapore, told a media briefing on Friday that the company's focus in the new year will be to further improve the experience for both riders and drivers.
It will centre efforts on drivers, because "happy drivers equal happy riders".
For starters, Uber will actively engage its "driver-partners" (an affectionate term it uses for its drivers) through various initiatives that include picnics in the park, bi-weekly focus groups, monthly roundtables, and a regular driver-partner e-newsletter, which will chronicle lessons from its driver-partners and services that will benefit them.
Mr Tseng added: "In terms of face-to-face engagement, we've been making it a focus to get in front of our drivers. We want to humanise our brand more. I know earlier on in our history, we were sort of deemed as cold, like we were behind our computer screens and e-mailing. We're making it a bigger focus … to help our drivers be more engaged and happier."
Uber even recognises some of its driver-partners as UberEntrepreneurs.
That is, part-time drivers who may also be real estate agents, business owners or restaurateurs.
Mr Tseng noted: "We will feature their businesses in our newsletters to help them promote their businesses."
Mr Tseng revealed that among Uber's goals for 2017 is to increase its pool of driver-partners.
He explained: "The nature of our platform is such that many of our drivers are part-time, in between jobs, or transient. We're seeing so much demand, as more people in the heartlands are getting used to this type of transport. There is always more demand than supply."
He added that having more driver-partners on its platform will also lead to more competitive prices.
"If you don't have enough cars and there is a supply-and-demand mismatch, this will drive prices up. When you have a more reliable product, or more drivers available at the right places at the right time, then your prices will be more competitive than the alternatives."
Mr Tseng described ride promotions as "things Uber does to promote new routes or products" to get people to try the platform, but are "by no means what it uses to sustain its business".
He declined to comment when asked if Uber Singapore is profitable.
But he noted that in Singapore, the company likes to "do things for the first time in Asia", reinforcing that the Republic remains a choice testbed for new products.
The most recent is UberPuppies, which lets users request for a 15-minute playtime with puppies that will be delivered to them.
The media briefing on Friday (which Mr Tseng said he hoped will kick-start future quarterly meet-ups with the press) also saw Uber reflect on key moments in 2016.
For instance, riders here travelled a total of 305 million kilometres this year, making Singapore one of Uber's top 20 cities in terms of ride volume.
Changi Airport is the top destination among local Uber riders.
The highest number of trips taken by a single rider here is 1,339, or 3.67 trips daily, while that by a single driver is 8,021, or nearly 22 trips daily.
The most popular time Singapore riders request for an Uber ride is Friday, 7-8pm.
This article was first published on December 18, 2016.
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