Uber’s recent efforts to build customer loyalty may be a step in the right direction, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels when it comes to holding onto riders in an industry that has, up until now, essentially placed retention on the backburner. In another move toward building a base of brand loyal riders, Uber is partnering with Visa to offer shoppers a chance to earn free rides.
Simply called Uber Local Offers, the program rewards riders for shopping at locally owned merchants. While shopping at these partnered businesses with an Uber-connected Visa card, customers will earn points based on spend. Once 100 points are accumulated, the card user receives $10 off their next Uber ride.
Often, the biggest hurdle for a rewards program is simply convincing customers to actively engage using a card or standalone app. Attacking this challenge head on, Uber Local Offers is almost entirely passive; as long as the credit card being used for purchase is linked to Uber, rewards are tracked and distributed directly from the Uber app.
Rolling the program out in phases, Local Offers is currently limited to areas of Los Angeles and Uber’s hometown, San Francisco.
The program, of course, isn’t designed to solely benefit Uber; local businesses may soon be clamoring to sign up as Local Offers partners, enjoying the increased business provided by Uber-supplied incentives. One participating restaurant, L.A.’s Barcito, is optimistic about the potential not only for retention, but for customer acquisition as well.
“The heart and soul of Los Angeles is its small businesses,” said Andrea Borgen, general manager/owner, Barcito. “Barcito is thrilled to be part of Uber’s Local Offers which will not only build loyalty with our current regulars, but also encourage new guests to experience our restaurant in downtown LA.”
There’s little doubt that Uber has become the dominant force of the ridesharing boom, and these steps toward incentivizing loyalty may be the company shutting the door on lingering competition from second place Lyft.  Much like the hospitality industry, ridesharing services offer essentially the same service, placing the potential for differentiation squarely on the shoulders of these loyalty efforts.

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