The new program can be used to encourage people to travel farther and get home safe.
Uber vouchers
Credit: Courtesy of Uber

In the past decade, Uber has completely upended the taxi industry. But that's only one of the brand's many ripples: Uber has also impacted the bar and restaurant industry by making it significantly easier (and in many parts of the world, far less expensive) to get home responsibly after drinking. Now, Uber has added a new feature that can help businesses incentivize customers to travel farther, or maybe indulge a little more, than they might have in the past: Uber Vouchers.

"Uber Vouchers make it easy for businesses of all types to sponsor transportation and create a differentiated experience — attracting new customers, rewarding existing ones, or enhancing customer service — by taking care of getting them there," the company explains. Large companies that are already planning to use Vouchers include TGI Fridays, the Golden State Warriors, LiveNation, and MGM Resorts — ostensibly creating options for customers to get to and from dinner, sporting events, concerts, and casinos.

Singling out restaurants specifically, Uber suggests that eateries will "now have the ability to promote dine-in experiences by removing barriers to get to their physical locations." For example, "TGI Fridays is using Uber Vouchers to amplify promotions that help drive foot traffic during a specific time of day or to a certain location as well as offer safe rides home." Meanwhile, for sporting events, Uber suggests that organizations could bundle an Uber Voucher with a ticket package: Think of it as offering a free Uber ride instead of a parking pass.

As far as how it works, Uber explains that businesses can tailor every part of the Voucher experience, setting up things like the value, pick-up and drop-off locations, and times; these Vouchers can then be sent through email, social media, or messaging services. Meanwhile, when a customer redeems one of these Vouchers, it goes right into the payment section of their app until it is used or expires. As a result, though Uber doesn't explicitly provide this example, it sounds like a brand could tweet out a Voucher link for customers, and then anyone could add it to their Uber app. What Uber does say is that businesses only pay for the Voucher if it's actually redeemed.

In the past, Uber has allowed people to buy rides for someone else, but with the Uber Voucher system, the big advantage appears to be the ability to scale these kinds of courtesies up to a much larger number of people at once. So next time you're in the mood for mudslides, maybe see if TGI Fridays has any deals to get you there and back.