How to Drive Uber and Lyft During Major Events
The busiest time on Uber and Lyft can be major events, like the Republican National Convention last week and the Democratic National Convention this week. However, the busiest time doesn’t always mean the most lucrative times. When there were much fewer drivers, any type of weather event like rain or snow, or concert/sports event would send surge to over 4x. Now with so many more drivers, it is tougher and tougher to get surged rides.
In smaller markets, there are much fewer drivers around so any kind of unexpected demand could easily enable surge pricing. Just a few days ago, I was scanning all of the Uber cities to see their fare prices and I noticed how some cities had almost no drivers available and a handful of cities had city-wide surge pricing, which doesn’t happen anymore in the larger cities.
So how would a driver prepare for a major event like the Democratic National Convention or any large conference in your major city? The key is preparation, scheduling, and a plan of where to drive. You would mostly likely make more money working during the Democratic National Convention, but in order to maximize your earnings during the time you drive, it is best to be prepared. Your preparation and planning will depend on what type of major event it is.
Two Different Types of Major Events
Here are two different types of major events based on how attendees leave the venue:
- Attendees leave all at once – typically events like sports events (a close game usually) and concerts
- Where to drive before the event – I would go online within the city limits and drive. Typically, there are a lot of people already in town, including locals and tourists, and they need to get to the event. A lot of people may use public transportation if possible, but some will be pressed for time or dressed in uncomfortable shoes and would rather take a ride to the event. There wouldn’t be many rides near the event because of all of the active drivers near the event who just dropped off their passengers. It doesn’t matter where you start to drive because you may end up near the event within a few rides anyway.
- Where to drive after the event – I wouldn’t recommend being at the entrance before the event ends. You will get a surge priced trip, but you may be trapped with all the pedestrian traffic. Try to be in an area where you will still get a request from the event, but where you can still avoid much of the traffic. I usually park a few blocks away and also wait until the surge is sufficiently high after the event lets out before going online.
- When to drive – I would recommend driving during the day before the event. If it is on a weekend, there will be a lot of people in town and their day will end the concert or special event going on later in the day. The demand after the event may be large, but short in duration since many people may be looking to go home afterwards.
- Attendees come and go all day – typically large conventions (like the DNC/RNC, Comic-Con, PAX) and a sports event
- Where to drive (morning to mid afternoon) – I would research all the hotels in the city and go towards the area with the highest number of hotels. This is typically in the downtown area or near the convention center. I wouldn’t set up near the convention center this early in the day since many people are going towards the convention center and there will be a lot of drivers near the convention center after dropping off their passengers.
- Where to drive (mid afternoon to closing) – I would go towards the convention center since there will be more people leaving the convention than going there, which may create excess demand in the local area.
- When to drive – it will be busy most of the day so anytime during the day will be fine. Depending on the size of the convention, it may create a lot of demand all over the city. However, from the recent events in Cleveland, there may be a large surge of drivers in other cities that come into your city in order to drive. Read below on how to handle these situations
How to Adjust Your Plan
Advanced planning will only go so far. In this dynamic world of rideshare, the best drivers always observe the current demand, adjust their plan and adapt to the changing supply and demand. Here are the blueprint on how to adjust your driving plan:
- Check Demand – Use the passenger app to check how many cars are near you. Don’t be discouraged if you see a ton of drivers. See if any of the cars start disappearing. If you see a lot of cars flashing on/off the map, it may mean that even though there are a lot of drivers near you, there is also a lot of demand that is requesting cars.
- Note times for any kind of Uber driver promotion – during these large events, Uber normally has either hourly guarantees or a bonus for every trip taken during a certain period of time. Expect the number of drivers on the road to increase and depending on how busy you are during these times, it may be best to avoid these times to be online for Uber or Lyft.
- Talk to other drivers – If you can, try talking to other Uber and Lyft drivers in your area. You can easily find a Facebook Group for drivers in your city. Talk with the other drivers and ask them what they see in terms of supply and demand. Having a few extra sets of eyes and ears go a long way in this industry.
- Watch the cars around you – can you spot the other Uber drivers? Do they have different license plates? If you see this, it means that drivers from other states are coming into your city and driving during the major event, like the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
- Check the map for surge pricing – this may not happen often, but checking the map for surge can tell you the hot spots in the city. There may not be any surge but it is worth trying
- What did you find out in the previous steps? Did you find out that the entire city is saturated with drivers and there isn’t any demand? Are there areas of the city that is busier than others? Are there any times that have worked better for other drivers (maybe midnight to 5am)? By asking the right questions, you can find out what you need to know and it will inform you on how you should adjust your plan.
- You will need to use the information from the previous steps to adjust your driving pattern.
- Hopefully, you will find all the busy areas of the city and if you are driving all day, it won’t really matter where you are driving. You will end up all over the city. However, if you cannot get a request quickly after each trip, you know where the hotspots are and you can head towards them to get your next ride.
- If there are too many drivers, especially from other cities, it is best to avoid the major event altogether and drive right after it. If there are too many drivers, they are all focused on the major event and will leave shortly after the major event.
These thought process are what it takes to stay ahead of other rideshare drivers. It pays to plan ahead, but it also crucial that you observe the market around you and adapt accordingly. If there are too many drivers around and you cannot get a request, it is best to go home, rest and drive another time. It is not smart to fight against the market forces that are working against you.
How would you approach planning to drive for a major event? Do you go through a similar thought process? Let us know in the comments below!Have more questions about Uber or Lyft? Head on over to our Rideshare Driver Training Course!