How Businesses Are Using Ridesharing Services to Bring in New Customers

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Consumer demand for ridesharing services has never been higher, with 40 million monthly riders spending an average of $50 on Uber alone. Now, some businesses are hoping that they can piggyback on that success by running promotions in conjunction with these very same services.

The practice is so common that Uber actually created its own partnership program, known as Partnership Perks, where local businesses give discounts to Uber drivers in exchange for added exposure and social media promotion. But some creative businesses and event organizers have gone beyond boilerplate partnership programs to come up with their own unique ways of utilizing ridesharing for marketing and promotional purposes. Here are five examples of what they’ve done.

1. Beaumont Health: Using available rides as a marketing tactic
Finding safe and affordable rides for patients is an issue that nearly every healthcare facility faces. Earlier this year, Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan, joined forces with the carpooling app Splt and the ride-hailing app Lyft on a program to give seniors rides to non-emergent medical appointments. Seniors requesting rides to Beaumont Health don’t need a smartphone; they can schedule rides online, by text, or on the traditional telephone. Scheduling and reimbursement issues are being handled by Splt, while Lyft is providing the drivers. The program appears to be a boon for Beaumont Health, which is now making it easier for patients to get to their appointments on time and marketing itself as an advocate for senior care.

2. Chili’s: Letting customers order rides from the table
Restaurants and bars are some of the most logical businesses to partner with ridesharing services, since customers who’ve been drinking shouldn’t be driving on the road. Chili’s was among the first to strike such a deal by partnering with Uber and giving customers a $20 credit for transportation. The marketing partnership between Uber and Chili’s is actually powered by the pay-at-the-table-tablet company Ziosk. Chili’s customers can order their Ubers through the tablets sitting on their tables, and they receive the credit from Uber via text. The partnership is allowing Chili’s to better serve its customers without actually costing the national restaurant chain much in additional marketing expense.

3. T-Mobile: Rewarding loyal customers with free rides
Understanding that the way to a customer’s heart is with free gifts, T-Mobile launched a new marketing initiative this past summer called T-Mobile Tuesdays. Customers who had downloaded T-Mobile’s mobile app and signed up with their phone numbers were gifted with free Lyft credits, good for up to $15. (T-Mobile Tuesdays is ongoing, but the Lyft credits are not available every week.) To make the promotion more sustainable, T-Mobile and Lyft put a tight limit on how long the rewards are available. In addition to the obvious benefits for T-Mobile, the promotion also benefits Lyft by introducing people who might not have tried the ridesharing service before.

4. Shake Shack: Incentivizing Uber riders to stop by
Back in January, Shake Shack entered into a “digital collaboration” with Uber as part of a cross-promotion with the Visa Commerce Network. Visa Commerce connects transactions between Shake Shack and Uber, giving Uber riders in participating cities discounts at Shake Shack when they use their Visa cards for both transactions. The discounts are credited seamlessly, so customers don’t have to use any coupons or promo codes to participate. The campaign has gone on for long enough now to see actual results, with Shake Shack benefiting from higher customer acquisition rates and higher customer spend levels.

5. Gwinnett Beer Fest: Getting attendees home safely with custom promo codes
A number of beer a wine festivals, including the Gwinnett Beer Fest in Lawrenceville, Georgia, have worked with ridesharing services to come up with special offer codes that attendees can use for discounts on rides to and from their events. At the Gwinnett Beer Fest, these codes are promoted across the event website, giving participants up to $20-off their Uber rides or 20%-off their Lyft rides. Event organizers can work directly with the ridesharing services to generate these custom codes. Uber even has a form on its website that organizers can use to request an event partnership.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.


Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.