Will Lyft’s Driver Destination give it the Airbnb advantage? By @yschkolnik

Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms have a huge advantage over ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber. Lyft’s new carpooling feature, destination, may be a game changer.

The home sharing advantage is, in a nutshell, that income produced by Airbnb hosts is mostly passive (hosts trade housing for money, not time), yet drivers have to work long, and sometimes exhausting hours to reach substantial income. For the most part, hosting on Airbnb is an incidental source of revenue, and is a coveted resource.

The satisfaction and goodwill of Airbnb hosts gives the company immense electoral power in future struggles against regulators, and makes recruiting new hosts almost a non-issue. At the same time, Lyft and Uber are battling for each driver, and have their fare share of public disputes with drivers over rate cuts, and the inevitable loss of income. In essence, hosts would go to the mattresses for Airbnb, while Uber drivers are busy picketing Uber’s HQ, and one would be hard pressed to find drivers to defend the latest scandal, #Ubergate.

Lyft’s new Driver Destination unlocks a new opportunity for people to give a ride during their own driving trips

Lyft’s destination will provide commuting drivers with a hybrid of passive and active income. They hope it will attract many casual drivers to their platform, and combined with Lyft line (shared rides) will serve as a real alternative to lacking public transportation. I believe it will also give them the elusive Airbnb advantage. They stand to gain a vast pool of casual drivers that will happily protect their new found semi-passive income.

Lyft can score major points at this point, but is anything but a sure thing. Sidecar has rolled out their own driver destination, called marketplace, a while back. Sidecar gives their drivers more data and options than any other company. As a driver one can choose his or her own pickup and destination radius, set the price, and always know the passenger’s destination when the request comes in. They were first to roll out shared rides as well. Can Lyft utilize destination more effectively than Sidecar?

Lyft has got marketing and PR figured out so far. From the pink mustache to an aggressive online strategy, they know how to show their good side to the cameras. While Uber should have an approximately 10–1 advantage on social media (given Uber’s market share), they only have a bit more than 2–1 exposure. Lyft may very likely have a game changer in their hands.

One minor caveat, many people would not be caught dead with a furry pink mustache on their way to the office. I trust Lyft will have a more discreet option for destination drivers.

Follow me on twitter/linkedIn for Share-Economy/Tech musing & stories, @yschkolnik.
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