Empty highways during what would otherwise be rush hour. Bars and restaurants closed. Concerts performed in front of virtual audiences. These common occurrences during the Covid-19 pandemic were crushing to the rideshare industry. Yet in 2021, even if the world doesn’t look like it did pre-Covid, the rideshare industry could quickly bounce back as people eagerly reunite with friends, family and get back to traveling.
For example, Lyft reports that the last week of February 2021 was the company’s best since March 2020 (when many shutdowns began). When speaking about these figures in an interview with CNBC, Lyft’s CFO, Brian Roberts, expressed optimism about what lies ahead.
And these high hopes aren’t limited to industry insiders.
“I’d like to boldly predict that ridesharing will be back better than ever in 2021,” says Christopher Elliott, founder of consumer advocacy nonprofit Elliott Advocacy, in an article for Forbes. “But I’m watching the fourth wave of cases slowly rise, despite vaccines and lockdowns. Something tells me it will be an uneven return to ridesharing this year.”
To make this comeback a reality, and to endure some of the ups and downs that may happen in 2021, rideshare companies need to focus on 3 main areas.
The Three Main Areas Rideshare Companies Need to Focus on in 2021
Health and Safety
Even though vaccine access has opened up fairly widely in the U.S., many other countries still have a long way to go, and Covid seems unlikely to be eliminated in 2021. As such, consumers will likely still keep health and safety top of mind. Even when the risk of Covid finally ends, consumers’ health and safety preferences may still look different than they used to. After the pandemic ends, nearly three-quarters of people in the U.S. still plan to wear masks in public, finds a survey by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
That means rideshare companies need to find ways to both improve and highlight their health and safety practices. Some options include:
- Make riding with a window open commonplace: As Elliott highlights in his Forbes article, some riders are adopting new rituals like opening a car window in a rideshare. He also points to a UMass Amherst study that backs up this practice.
- Providing optional masks to customers: Even if mask mandates go away, rideshare companies can still offer this option to consumers, much as a driver might offer a phone charging cable to riders.
- Emphasizing cleaning protocols: While the CDC now states (as of April 2021) that becoming infected with Covid-19 through surfaces or objects “is generally considered to be low,” many consumers are now more conscious of cleaning protocols. Rideshare companies may benefit from highlighting how they provide a clean, comfortable experience for customers.
Following a year in which time felt like it was moving in a circle rather than a straight line for so many people, those who are returning to ridesharing in 2021 will want to make the most of their time. To prove their value, rideshare companies need to provide efficient experiences for customers, such as by:
- Promoting payment efficiencies: Contactless payments have been on the upswing due to the pandemic. Not only do they tie into health and safety, but they also can speed up transactions. Rideshare companies should continue to improve and promote how they make payments quick, easy and contactless.
- Streamlining pickups: If riders have to wait a while to connect with their assigned drivers at airports, when getting out of an event, etc., they may grow frustrated. Rideshare companies instead need to streamline pickups such as by working with venues to establish rideshare zones and providing quick, easy verification methods to ensure passengers get in the right vehicles.
Even if the economy bounces back well in general, many consumers will still be dealing with job losses or pay reductions stemming from the pandemic. As such, they may be more cost-conscious than in years past. However, that doesn’t mean rideshare companies should necessarily cut prices, particularly as more public attention shines on issues like driver pay.
To balance these somewhat competing issues, rideshare companies should consider:
- Being more transparent on driver pay
- Providing discounts to help support hard-hit industries, e.g., offering promotions in conjunction with restaurants
- Empowering both riders and drivers economically, e.g., by matching a certain level of driver tips to a charity of a rider’s choosing
Taking these types of steps can help rideshare companies get closer to pre-pandemic levels, and in some cases, they may even be able to surpass where they were previously. The road ahead will likely still be challenging, but there are plenty of opportunities to turn things around.
Create the best rideshare user experience leveraging LISNR
Tools like LISNR can help. From contactless payments to identity authentication, rideshare companies use our data over sound technology to provide a better experience for customers.
What else is in store for mobility companies in 2021? Download our mini-whitepaper to learn more.