Malls are suffering massive economic losses following the rise of Amazon and some estimates predict that up to 25% of the nation’s shopping malls will close in the next five years. With all of that unused retail space just sitting there, mall property owners attempt to find new revenue streams to help fund their empty shopping plazas. One shopping center company has teamed up with Uber to offer customers of the ride-sharing service a lounge to relax as they wait for their ride.
The Westfield Corporation, an Australian-based retail property management company that has locations in the U.K. and U.S., has started a partnership with Uber. The retail leasing giant will provide designated pick-up and drop-off areas for Uber customers at all of their 33 locations in the United States. Five locations will offer driver assistance from a live, in-person representative called an “Uber ambassador.”
The flagship Uber lounge will be located at Westfield’s Century City shopping center. “Located off Santa Monica Boulevard, the first-of-its-kind lounge will feature ultra-modern design, sleek seating, and other amenities so you can begin and end your Uber ride in style,” the Uber blog post stated. The Century City lounge will offer complimentary coffee, water, and tea, phone charging stations, digital directory information, daily periodicals and complimentary magazines, package check and delivery, foreign language translation, restaurant and entertainment reservations, access to personal styling and shopping services, and ticketing for local events and attractions.
Uber is hoping to add a luxury feel to their brand to differentiate themselves from their competition. However, Lyft already partnered with JetBlue to offer pick-up kiosks at certain airports. The new Uber lounges may open the door for Uber to charge a premium membership fee for exclusive access to their lounges later down the road.
The changes arrive as Uber switches to new management and a new direction. In June, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick resigned amid controversies after a “shareholder revolt.” Uber brought in Dara Khosrowshashi as their new CEO. And this comes a month after Uber lost its license to operate in London.