Business Travelers Increasingly Use Lyft Ride-Sharing Services

September 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It used to be that, when you needed to get across town or to the airport, a loud whistle or the wave of an arm would bring a car to your feet. There was a time when a cab was the sole form of a solo ride for pedestrians.

Then Uber hit the streets, which began to threaten the public transportation mainstay; coming in from the back of the pack was Lyft. These days, the tried-and-true method has been overtaken by a sleeker, newer model, and ground transportation is becoming a neck-and-neck race between two contenders. And it’s the taxis that may be left out in the cold.

Lyft usage is increasing among business travelersAccording to USA Today, Certify, a business expense tracking company, reported that Lyft is seeing more growth than Uber and the “old-fashioned” taxi.
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Five Ways Business Travel is Changing in 2018

March 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Change is constant throughout life, and business travel is no exception. As we near the end of our first quarter of the year, we’re starting to see some changes in the way we’re approaching travel and the way the technology is changing how we get from Point A to Point B.

Lyft car with the signature pink mustache. This has become a popular mode of transportation for business travel.Sharing economies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft have transitioned from independent rebels operating outside mainstream business to becoming accepted as helpful ways to accomplish business travel goals and keep budgets in line.

Because of the wide acceptance of these services, particularly among small business owners, an article on The Next Web wonders how these companies will expand. For example, in 2014, small business owners only chose Uber over taxis 1 in 3 times. As of the end of 2017, that had reversed, with Uber being the preferred choice 3 to 1. Airbnb has had a similar experience among the same demographic. In 2014, hotels were preferred to Airbnb properties 16 to 1, while just three years later, that ratio was only 6 to 1. It will be interesting to see how these ride sharing and hospitality service economies navigate saturation in the remainder of 2018.

Blockchain technology advances and the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are infiltrating marketplace transactions and this year could be a turning point in how it is accepted by the big players in the credit industry. In the final quarter of 2017, American Express, VISA, and MasterCard each announced its intentions to get in on the burgeoning tectonic shift in the way transactions are completed around the world.

One of the main reasons these three players are making moves to stake their claim in this Wild West of transaction technology is because blockchain transactions operate differently and outside of traditional banking systems. A decentralized network of computers has the ability to encrypt and maintain the integrity of a public ledger so that it is immune to hacking and fraud. Blockchain also allows individuals to conduct business without a middleman, such as a credit card company or bank, and this innovation has the potential to alter the landscape of how both businesses and citizens do business in significant ways.

While we are still a ways away from it being ubiquitous and part of the way everyone buys and sells goods and services, blockchain and Bitcoin’s use overseas is forcing banks and credit card companies to implement initiatives so they aren’t left behind.

Much faster than we expected and may be ready for, self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic concept. They’ll be operational in a limited number of cities as early as 2019, after Uber launched its first test fleet in 2016. Its recently-announced partnership with Volvo to add 24,000 such vehicles to its fleet, and Lyft’s partnership with Waymo to make similar advancements in its business strategy, self-driving cars are only going to increase the availability of another viable option for business travel very, very soon.

While it may still be some time before you’ll see a self-driving car pull up to the curb to take you where you need to go, artificial intelligence (AI) has already made significant inroads to the way we create itineraries online for business travel. Labeled “cognitive projects” in an IBM report of the business travel industry leaders, a third of all companies in this space are working on AI enhancements that will personalize the business traveler’s experience.

Whether you call it “interactive customer service” or a “chatbot” that pops up when you’re considering a specific flight itinerary, these cognitive projects are being designed to analyze large data sets and the preferences of other travelers in order to create an itinerary that appears to have been customized.

Business travelers may not even notice the influx of AI into the process, since the technology is being developed in such a way that it can converse in natural language with prospective customers in order to determine and meet their needs.

All of these changes are the result of the fact that there’s money to be made in business travel. According to the Global Business Travel Association, business travel is expected to increase by 6 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2016. Increased trade worldwide and growth in both manufacturing and emerging markets are driving optimism. While this may be good for the economy, businesses will have to find creative ways to absorb or streamline the projected 3.5 and 3.7 percent increases, respectively, in airline tickets and hotel accommodations.

With all this potential for dramatic changes, the mature nature of the business travel industry will find ways to adjust and welcome these shifts because it knows they ultimately result in growth.

What plans do you have for communicating in an emergency? Do you have any plans or strategies already in place? Have you ever had to use them? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: PraiseLightMedia (Wikipedia, Creative Commons 4.0)

More Companies Allowing Business Travelers to Use Sharing Economies

January 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers who have taken an Uber or Lyft instead of hailing a taxi, or stayed at an Airbnb property instead of staying at a hotel chain, you’re among a growing majority of employees whose companies are encouraging using the emerging sharing economies.

According to a survey conducted by Chrome River Technologies, an expense and invoice management technology solutions company, 78 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees allow their travelers to use ride-sharing services, while 68 percent allow home-sharing services.

The company asked 100 chief financial officers, controllers, and treasurers at 100 U.S.-based companies for this data in order to determine how much freedom corporations provide their employees when they travel for business.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car. It's becoming a favorite method of travel among business travelers.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car.

“Corporate travel and expense policies should be agile enough to address the ever-changing nature of business travel. It’s refreshing to see that larger organizations have already incorporated sharing economy services into their policies,” Alan Rich, Chrome River CEO, said in a statement.

While less than one-quarter of the officers surveyed said their company doesn’t have any policy regarding the use of sharing economy services, 17 percent have instituted policies that don’t allow the use of ride-hailing services, and 24 percent prohibit their employees from booking accommodations through home-sharing platforms. Perhaps even more surprising were the percentages regarding the mandating of such services: 13 percent of companies require their people to use ride-sharing apps, while 12 percent have dictated that travelers must use home-sharing instead of hotels for lodging.

The implementation of rules and policies for reimbursement and reporting of expenses related to these services follows the rising trend among leisure travelers. The survey data shows some are still hesitant to utilize such options.

Does your company allow you to use sharing economy accommodations or are you limited to just traditional hotel and travel brands? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Praiselightmedia (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Uber and Lyft Overtake Taxis for Business Travel

September 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve been hearing rumors for a while, but now there’s data to back up what many have been saying: Uber and Lyft are being used more than taxis for business travel.

According to a report by Certify, a travel expense management software company, at the end of the third quarter of last year, ride-hailing services accounted for more than half of all business travel receipts in the ground transportation category.

The taxi has long been a favorite mode of transportation for business travel.In its analysis of 10 million receipts, Uber was clearly the favorite, and it’s easy to understand why. Both Uber and Lyft provide a simplified, streamlined experience: reservations can be made online; an estimate of the cost is provided before a reservation is secured; users can track the car’s arrival; cars are clean, newer models; and, their drivers are friendly and knowledgeable about their city. No money changes hands, and detailed receipts of the time, date, route, and credit card used are emailed, avoiding fraud by either the user or the driver.

“We continue to see interest in the ride-sharing economy,” Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify, told USA Today. “Small to medium businesses were the early adopters. Now, more Fortune 500 companies are adding them to approved vendor lists.”
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Would You Ride in a Driverless Uber?

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When Uber began testing driverless cars in several cities (and battled with California over its right to do so without a permit) last year, select passengers who wanted to try the experience weren’t the only passengers in the car. That’s because Uber is conducting research and has operators in the vehicles as it tests them in real life scenarios.

As Uber engineers test the automation, several things are proving to be troublesome for the artificial intelligence to interpret. First and foremost, the unpredictability of human drivers makes it challenging for the AI to compensate. For example, crossing over into the left lane to make a right-hand turn is a scenario that does not compute for the software.

Self-driving Uber prototype being tested in San Francisco

Self-driving Uber prototype being tested in San Francisco

Another quandary is bridges, so the company chose Pittsburgh specifically because of its many bridges, as a way to iron those bugs out. Bridges are difficult for driverless cars to handle, said Uber’s engineering director Raffi Krikorian, because they lack environmental cues that streets have, namely buildings. According to Business Insider, Krikorian said Pittsburgh was the “double black diamond of driving” and he believes conducting research in that city will help the research advance quickly.

Weather is also proving a challenge because snow, for example, obscures lane markings, making navigation tricky. Uber is also finding other challenges from nature during its tests, such as trees. The cars rely on high-definition maps with landmarks to navigate. In Pittsburgh, the images on those maps were taken in the winter when there were no leaves on the trees, so the car can’t determine what the new objects on its route are.
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Rental Cars Still Going Strong in Age of Uber

February 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services continue to grow, it stands to reason that the emergence of these services would negatively affect the rental car industry.

But it turns out it’s not as cut and dried as it may appear.

Avis Car RentalsAccording to car rental industry leaders, the need that rental cars fill for the public is not the same as the one being met by Uber and Lyft. In fact, according to USA Today, Avis Budget Group reported a three percent increase in revenues over the first three quarters of 2016 and Enterprise Holdings saw a 10 percent increase in its airport car rental revenue in 2015.

So, no real disruption here.

The reason for these upward trends is that rental cars and Uber are not an apples-to-apples comparison. According to Neil Abrams, a consultant in the car rental industry, “Typically, auto rental is lumped into the general category of ground transportation, including taxi and livery services. However, whereas taxi and livery are of shorter duration and mileage, the rental customer normally has a different requirement which demands more time and distance.”
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Travel Top Five: Lowering Your Ride Sharing Costs

January 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With the steadily increasing popularity of Uber and Lyft, it seems ride sharing is becoming a popular mode of transportation for business travel. If you rely on it regularly, what are the best ways to save money? We’ve done some research and here’s what we found:

Booking in advance allows you to secure a ride when you need it, instead of waiting when you’d really rather be on your way. You’ll save money by scheduling your ride when you know it’s not rush hour. If you use Lyft, scheduling locks in your fare; Uber doesn’t offer that feature.
A Lyft ride sharing vehicle in Santa Monica, CA
Search online for coupons. Both companies are competing for customers, so do a little poking around on either company’s official site or at sites like Groupon. Uber offers free rides for those who refer a friend who downloads the app, so if you’re traveling with a friend, have him or her download the app with your referral link, and you can both get a free ride to wherever you’re going.

Avoid traveling during surges. Fares are adjusted automatically, based on demand. For example, prices soar after events because of the demand for drivers, so if you can wait, the cost will drop. Don’t think you’ll get the average fare for a trip you’ve taken before if you’re among the throngs waiting for a ride.
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GM and Lyft Working to Make Self-Driving Cars a Reality

June 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The transportation you use once you arrive at your destination, whether traveling from the airport to your hotel or from the commuter train to your business meeting, can be a big part of your overall travel experience.

A Lyft vehicle in Santa Monica, CABesides impacting your overall feeling about the trip, it can be expensive, depending on what you use. While limos or taxis used to be the predominant method, the popularity of Uber and its competitor Lyft have changed the conversation about what mode of transport is not only most pleasant and efficient, but most cost effective.

To that end, GM and Lyft are betting that utilizing driverless cars will create an even less expensive option for users. Conde Nast Traveler reports the two companies have combined forces, and GM has purchased driverless tech company Cruise Automation, with an eye on capturing that emerging market.
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