As Lyft continues to try to make gains with business travelers — and everyday commuters who use competing car services — the ridesharing company is testing pickups scheduled in advance.
In the coming weeks, Lyft will start allowing some users in San Francisco to request a ride up to 24 hours in advance. Customers can choose a time by tapping a clock icon on the right as they set a pickup location. The trial will begin with employees, but the company said it expects to roll the service out to more passengers in the summer.
“Whether you have an early-morning flight and need to get to the airport or have a make-or-break business meeting cross-town, scheduled rides will get you out the door and off to your destination at your specified pickup time,” the company said in a blog post.
While the announcement was for all users, the specific mentions in the message may resonate especially with business travel customers. Lyft has been making a push for more corporate travel clients, sponsoring events for travel managers, adding business profiles for users, and integrating with Concur, the expense reporting software.
While rival Uber owns more of the corporate travel market, Lyft has been making gains. A report from expense management software provider Certify showed that Uber accounted for more than 43 percent of ground transportation transactions among its customer base in the first quarter of the year, while Lyft made up just 2.5 percent. But Lyft saw a 44 percent increase in business traveler use from the end of 2015 to the first quarter of this year.
In the blog post, Lyft said it was offering the service because customers had been asking for it. The cost will be the same for any other type of ride, at least initially; there will be a minimum cost guarantee, though a source at Lyft said the company will test different thresholds.
An Uber spokeswoman said the company does not offer the feature and declined to comment on any future plans. In its “Help” section, the company says bookings are always made on-demand by making a request through the app.
“There’s no need to set a reservation in advance,” the site says. “We recommend checking the app a few minutes in advance of your desired pickup time to view current availability.”