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Lyft’s Game Plan For Corporate Travel

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As of last April, ridesharing app Lyft accounted for 1 percent of corporate use of this kind of service. It’s by no means a threatening position for rival Uber, which, according to expense management firm Certify, accounts for the vast majority of corporate use of ride-hailing services.

But Certify’s research unveiled a trend worth watching: Lyft’s share of the corporate travel space is only expected to rise, and its presence in this segment grew 44 percent between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016, according to the data.

“Although a distant second place in the category, Lyft has also established momentum with the business travel trend,” the company said in its report, “and now represents nearly 2.5 percent of all ground transportation transactions.”

Lyft executives recently confirmed that the firm’s expansion within the corporate travel space is no accident.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Lyft Chief Business Officer David Baga said the company is turning towards corporates after blasting into the market with a focus on the consumer.

“It’s a huge market, first of all,” Baga said of the enterprise travel space. “And we think its been a tremendous growth engine for the company.” (Bloomberg pointed to more recent Certify data that shows Lyft now accounts for 4 percent of the corporate ride-hailing space, while Uber holds 69 percent.)

PYMNTS wanted to dig deeper into Lyft’s game plan to capture corporate travel market share away from its top competitor. In a recent interview, a Lyft spokesperson reiterated Baga’s focus on this segment to help the firm continue to gain market share overall.

“We see enterprise travel as one of Lyft’s most significant growth channels,” the spokesperson said.

Over the last year, the firm has introduced new corporate features for its mobile app (Uber has introduced its own set of features aimed at the enterprise crowd, too), launching business profiles, the ability to schedule rides up to 24 hours in advance and a concierge solution that lets professionals request rides for others.

Lyft said the new solutions and the traction that on-demand services have gained within the enterprise are all about personalization.

“Corporate travelers are looking for a personalized option of getting from place to place in an affordable manner,” the spokesperson explained. “They want their work travel to keep up with their personal travel.”

Partnerships, it seems, have been instrumental to Lyft’s popularity with businesses. Expense management solution Concur revealed last summer that it inked a collaborative deal with the firm to integrate data from Lyft rides into Concur’s platform, streamlining the expense report creation process.

Lyft also pointed to recent partnerships with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Airbnb and Intuit as some of the bigger names whose employees can use Lyft for corporate travel purposes.

And just last week, reports revealed Lyft snagged a major corporate partner — Apple — to gain more ground.

In an email sent to employees in March, Apple reportedly said Lyft can be used for “safe, convenient and affordable rides when traveling for business.”

Lyft’s Baga didn’t comment on the deal, reports noted.

But a targeted approach to gaining corporate travel users includes a subcategory of today’s professionals, the company told PYMNTS.

“Corporate teams are rapidly changing. Millennials will make up half the workforce by 2020, car ownership is dropping and the organizations are as diverse, global and connected as they’ve ever been,” the spokesperson explained. “Corporate travel programs need to respond by becoming data-driven, consumer friendly and mobile-first — without sacrificing safety and reliability.”

Lyft still has a long road ahead in its competition against Uber, and that includes the corporate travel market. A deal with Apple, however, might hint at the firm’s strategy moving forward.

“We predict that all the Fortune companies and major organizations will incorporate ridesharing into their managed travel programs by the end of 2018,” Lyft told PYMNTS, “with ridesharing as the largest line item in all ground transportation budgets.”

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