The past 12 months have been kind to Lyft. As Uber struggled with its own challenges throughout the year, its ride-hailing competitor saw its fortunes rise, its value estimated at $7.5 billion according to Vanity Fair, which also reported Lyft’s plans to develop its own self-driving technology and partnerships with autonomous-car companies nuTonomy, Drive.ai and Waymo.
In October, Google parent company Alphabet injected $1 billion of investment into Lyft, which also announced a move into its first international market –Toronto—in November.
Lyft Business, which launched about two and a half years ago as the company’s B2B division, also has plans to grow its market share.
Amit Patel, director of partnerships at Lyft Business describes the division as a startup within a startup.
“We have the resources of a larger organization, but Lyft is our own mini venture capitalist and we work with leadership across the company to figure out how they want to invest in our business to keep us growing at the same rate or faster."
Already, the group has had success with the healthcare industry, working with EMT brokers to transport members of managed care plans to medical appointments. Patel says:
“Instead of having to deal with cabs and traditional transportation suppliers, EMT brokers can schedule hundreds of Lyft rides for a week and become more operationally efficient."
The B2B operation has also gained a following among event planners, who want to transport conference or tradeshow attendees between venues and functions, as well as companies that guarantee employees a ride home when working late. Dealership networks and car rental companies have also found value in getting their customers to and from pick-up or drop-off appointments.
Airlines have also taken to contracting with Lyft to alleviate distressed passenger traveler issues, or in other words, to move customers rebooked on flights at another local airport rather than relegating the service to local buses. Certain airlines have also bought into the service to move crew under similar circumstances.
The common denominator among all Lyft Business clients is access to integration with clients’ internal expense management tools and associated data insights as well as Lyft’s nationwide coverage (the ride sharing service is available across 95 percent of the US), and the variety of products available –from the standard Lyft ride to black car service.
Patel believes Lyft is redefining what transportation means and what car service means.
“We want to unlock people’s restrictions in how they think about transportation."
He says the group aims to expand further into the healthcare industry in 2018 as well as to grow its share of corporate travel business.
“There’s a lot we need to do in corporate travel and next year, the goal is to integrate into the ecosystems of large TMCs and eventually integrate Lyft into their applications."
Patel adds that by integrating Lyft into TMC systems, their financial teams can better manage costs and duty of care.
Another business development possibility for 2018 is hotel partnerships whereby Lyft credits are included in a hotel package and the hotel concierge coordinates the service on behalf of guests or the package includes airport transportation via Lyft and again, coordination and execution all happens behind the scenes for a more seamless trip.
“Imagine the traveler has gone through the booking process and when they arrive at their destination, they don’t have to do anything because when the plane touches down, the traveler receives an alert on their phone that their Lyft service has been dispatched and is a certain number of minutes away.”
The traveler would receive vehicle and pick-up location details. Patel says:
“There are so many different industries where transportation is broken and there are opportunities to fix it and we’re focused on working with our customers to figure out where their pain points are and what the solutions are, whether apps or concierge products."