There’s no shortage of marketing options for a restaurant these days, be it print ads, billboards, loyalty programs or a snarky social media presence—but have you ever tried paying cab fare to bring customers directly to your restaurant? This is now a thing, and it very well might become a big thing, with the official launch of Uber Vouchers that allows businesses to “sponsor transportation and create a differentiated experience,” which is Uber-speak for “free rides.”
Continuing the lingual flourishes, the company’s release on the new service says it’s a result of a year of development that was intended to create “deeper connections between [customers] and the people who use their services.” Side note: I absolutely love the Silicon Valley sub-dialect of the English language.
TGI Fridays, Westfield, Live Nation, Sprint and the Golden State Warriors were all part of the test comprised of retailers, restaurants and service providers that could benefit from ponying up for customer car fare. Allstate and MGM Resorts have since signed on to the program.
Uber bills the new service as a “white-glove guest experience” for businesses looking to make visiting its locations easier, cheaper and as friction-free as possible, while simultaneously opening a new can of worms in direct-to-consumer marketing. The company says its voucher program can provide a flexible transportation option for customers that can reduce overhead and fixed costs for certain businesses.
For restaurants, Uber Vouchers is another option for those offering third-party delivery vais Uber Eats. Fridays has used ride vouchers to amplify promotions intended to drive foot traffic at specific times of day, as well as offering safe rides home.
Buying a radio ad or a billboard to reach a general audience is inherently a crapshoot. Switching some of those marketing into direct customer arrivals seems destined to make an impact, both in special-use cases like VIP perks and for establishments worried about the scarce parking, nearby construction or general laziness keeping customers glued to the couch.