Car Industry

Uber Vouchers program will let companies buy rides for their clients

What if a restaurant gave you a free Uber ride to dinner?

Uber Vouchers could help you get a free ride to, say, your favorite sports team's next home game.

Uber

Businesses may be able to skip hiring shuttles to transport customers to and from their events, or even reward loyal customers with free transportation, by using the new Uber Vouchers program. Announced Tuesday, Uber Vouchers lets companies pay for bulk ride-sharing trips for their customers. The company said in a statement the program offers new ways of "attracting new customers, rewarding existing ones or enhancing customer service -- by taking care of getting them there."

As examples, Uber cites some of the companies with which it has worked on a trial of Vouchers over the past year. High-end malls might offer free Uber rides to customers, for instance, while Uber said restaurant chain TGI Fridays could use vouchers for free rides to increase business during slow sales periods -- and provide "safe rides" home for diners who imbibe. With the Golden State Warriors, Uber said the team was able to bundle rides to and from games with ticket sales or loyalty programs.

Uber Vouchers lets businesses select specific locations and times for the promotion, as well as limiting pickup and drop-off locations, and they can limit the maximum amount that they'll pay for the customer's ride. Customers, meanwhile, simply receive the Voucher via email or directly in their Uber app. The Uber Voucher program rolls out today in most of the company's markets.

The idea of a business subsidizing transportation to a specific destination has also been suggested by Waymo, which might consider using that strategy to make rides in its self-driving cars free. Waymo CEO John Krafcik told Roadshow in October 2018, "Businesses are saying to some of the users, 'Hey, we'll pay Waymo to bring you to the mall, or to this destination, or to the hotel.' … I think this is a really interesting future business possibility for Waymo."