It’s been a couple months since I recorded my first podcast but it’s still getting tons of downloads every day (thanks guys!). During the podcast, I explained how the Lyft and Uber passenger request system works and I also gave some strategic tips for picking up passengers. You might be thinking to yourself, how hard can it be? You go into driver mode and wait for the requests to come. But trust me, there’s a lot more that goes into it, especially now that there are more drivers on the road than ever.
Related Article: What’s Your Passenger Pick-Up Strategy? (Podcast)
One of the tips I gave for getting more requests was to stay on the lookout for concerts, special events and things of that nature. Obviously it didn’t take a genius to figure that one out since big events attract a lot of people and most of them would rather take an Uber or Lyft than deal with parking and not being able to drink.
Lyft and Uber have actually started sending out e-mail blasts with all of the local events so it’s now easier than ever to find out about these events. One thing I didn’t talk about though during the podcast is how and where to position yourself during these events.
Most concerts and festivals will cause surge pricing on Uber and Prime Time on Lyft. It really doesn’t matter the time of day or the area, surge is bound to happen. If there are enough people in attendance, there will never be enough drivers on the road to satisfy demand.
Just a couple weeks ago, we saw surge rates of 10-13x on Uber during a random Saturday night. There were actually two events going on (Beyonce & Jay-Z Concert and Hard Summer Music Festival) that caused it but that’s the highest surge I’ve ever seen. These are the types of events you NEED to be driving during.
Where to Post Up Prior to the Event
At the start of big events, I like to position myself at least 10-15 minutes away (driving distance) from the venue. Even though there are probably lots of requests coming in within that distance, every time you drop a rider off you have to spend time waiting for another request, driving to that rider and then waiting for that passenger to get into the car. You don’t get paid during all of that down time so longer rides are obviously preferable.
I’ve also found that since there is more traffic and riders tend to be more intoxicated, the drive times and waiting for passenger times are magnified. Once I drop a passenger off near the venue, I’ll go out of driver mode until I’m about 5-10 minutes away from the venue and then I’ll turn it back on.
Normally, the best strategy is to remain in the same place for 5-10 mins after you drop off a passenger (as proven here by Uber data scientists) but with special events that all goes out the window.
How to Find Your Passenger in a Cluster F&*K
Over the weekend, there was a big music festival in Orange County called Pacific Festival. I actually went to this festival a few years ago but since the lineup has slowly deteriorated and I’ve gotten older (mainly the latter is the cause) I decided to pass this year and drive instead.
One of the rides I got on Saturday evening took me over by the concert as it was letting out so I accepted the first request I could get. There were probably a few thousand people slowly trickling out of the main entrance and I parked right in front of a big illuminated sign. I called my passenger and told him where I was but after about 5-10 minutes of trying to find each other, I gave up. I cancelled the ride and immediately accepted the next one.
The scene was pretty crazy as there were probably hundreds of people trying to request Ubers and I saw many drivers on their cell phones trying desperately to find their passengers. Apparently, there was an Uber drop-off/pick-up zone but I never got the e-mail since I registered in Los Angeles and not Orange County.
I had a lot of people coming up to my car and asking if I was an Uber. Like I said, passengers were pretty desperate for rides and even though it was surging, they weren’t even able to request a ride. One of the first things you’ll discover in a situation like this is that these kids love to pretend that you’re their Uber driver. I had several people come up to me and ask if I was their Uber driver. My response was sure, what is your name? And then they would giggle and laugh and start naming off a bunch of different names. Nice try junior!
Whenever I’m trying to find a passenger in a busy area like this, I try to position myself next to something recognizable like a cop car with its lights on or a big illuminated sign (I’ve found giving cross streets doesn’t work very well) and I’ll also turn my emergency flashers on. That way, I can tell my passenger, “I’m in a Blue Lexus SUV, with my flashers on, right in front of the sign that says Main Entrance.” That way, they have three different points of references to look for. Remember, these kids are young, dumb and drunk, so you’ve got to make it easy for them!
A Word of Caution
One thing you should never do is accept ride requests off the platform. I had several people offer me cash but I politely turned them down. I’ve even heard of a couple sting operations in certain markets where cops are using attractive girls to try and wave down drivers. I think this scenario is pretty unlikely but it’s just a reminder that you shouldn’t be doing this in the first place.
My Number One Tip for Special Events
After I dropped off this passenger, I noticed on my Uber map that I was still on the outskirts of the surge area. Surge is normally supposed to be very localized but in this case I was about 5 miles from the venue and I was still inside the surge zone. I knew the concert was causing the surge pricing because it was only 9:30 pm and there is never surge pricing that early in the OC.
Instead of going back towards the heart of the surge where I knew lots of passengers were still requesting rides I decided to wait on the outskirts of the surge zone. Uber was hovering inbetween 2.25-2.75x while Lyft was only 25% PT. I ended up having to wait 5 minutes, but I got a request right next to me and it ended up turning into a quick $30 ride.
The nice thing about Uber and certain Lyft cities is that you can see the surge/Prime Time map on your phone. So you should take advantage of that and always try to position yourself on the outskirts of the surge area from the get-go (don’t even mess around with finding people at the actual event). That way you can pick up normal passengers who probably don’t even know there’s a concert going on. If you get a request outside of the surge area or near the venue, cancel it (within reason of course) until you get one nearby.
Readers, what do you think about my tips and strategies for driving during special events? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share with other drivers out there or is there something I missed?
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-The Rideshare Guy
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