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by Deanna Ting | November 04, 2015
Uber Technologies is expanding its UberEVENTS offering throughout the U.S. The service, which allows event organizers to provide discounted and/or fully paid Uber ride passes for their event attendees, was originally rolled out in beta in New York City last month.
 
To use the service, planners can create their event at Uber.com/events and for a small processing fee (estimated at approximately 2 percent of the total order), they can set up discounted and/or fully paid ride passes for their attendees. Guests receive the passes (or codes) via email, and can then use them via the Uber app on their smartphones.
 
Why did Uber decide to debut UberEVENTS this year? Uber Communications spokesperson Sarah Maxwell says that, since Uber's inception, the company has received numerous inquiries about purchasing rides for specific events.
 
"We probably get hundreds of requests about buying rides for weddings and corporate events each week," says Maxwell. "We saw increased interest last holiday season, especially around corporate events, so as a team, we began thinking about this holiday season and what we could do to create an experience for people to provide rides for their events. It's been a long time coming, and we think people really want it."
 
Maxwell notes that the way that the UberEVENTS platform is set up, event organizers have control over how the ride passes are used. Planners can set a specific pick-up and drop-off point so they can be assured riders are using their designated addresses when using the passes, as well as create a custom/vanity code for the entire group. Settings can also be put into place for when that code is valid, according to date, time, and location.
 
"You as the planner get to set the value - the number of rides each person can take," she explains. "You can set the denomination and the value, too. For example, a music festival recently used UberEVENTS and gave their attendees a code for just $5 off. Or, for VIPs, you can do passes that are worth $100. And let's say you set the value of the ride at $25, but the guest's actual ride comes out to $27; you don't get charged for that overage," Maxwell notes. "It gives you flexibility in the type of experience you want to tailor for your event."
 
And, she notes, planners are only charged for the rides that are actually redeemed using the unique UberEVENTS code set up by the planner.  "If you purchase, say, $5,000 worth of rides, for example, you are only charged for the number of rides redeemed. So if you have a set budget, that's really helpful," Maxwell says.
 
Addressing planners who may have concerns about using a ridesharing or transportation service like Uber, Maxwell says, "The same experience that you has as an individual Uber rider are the same features built into the rides that your attendees take," Maxwell says. "You may have guests already using Uber, too."
 
More and more, apps like Uber and its main competitor, Lyft, are being used by meeting attendees to get to and from their meetings and events. In this month's Successful Meetings cover story, we looked at the ways in which smart planners can utilize these "disruptors" to their advantage to create more seamless, affordable, and accessible meetings for their attendees.
 
Likewise, Maxwell thinks that if more planners consider using the UberEVENTS platform for their events, the easier their attendees' transportation experiences could be.
 
"By using UberEVENTS, we can better manage your event transportation, to let our city teams inform local drivers to take care of that event, and gives them a better sense of where they should be driving," she says. "It means lower wait times, and designated pick-up and drop-off points. You want to create a holistic experience for your guests, and by creating these codes through UberEVENTS, we can better manage pick up and drop off."