Halloween Surge Pricing: get an Uber at the witching hour

Halloween Image

 

Halloween Image

It’s close to midnight, and something evil’s lurking in the dark. You’ve got the perfect costume and an awesome party to get to but every time you refresh Uber, there are NO CARS AVAILABLE. Now, imagine every single person around you doing the exact same thing… and Halloween ends up with you alone at home while the zombies slowly surround you…

This is the nightmare that happened last Halloween! 95% of requests resulted in “No Cars Available”, leaving Uber riders stranded. Even worse, those few riders who succeeded had to refresh their Uber app for an hour or more before getting a highly coveted Uber ride.

Why does this happen?

Demand Spike

Halloween is a unique night. Uberites in all our cities head out costumed and ready to have a great night. Every taxi is taken or snapped up as soon as it becomes free. Halloween partiers ultimately have to beg, borrow and steal in the hopes of getting a ride. This demand spillover results in a lot of unlucky people walking home or missing out on a party or three.

Supply Shortage

The situation for Uber is further aggravated because there is a run on private cars in the city, resulting in a severe supply shortage. This causes the available cars to be significantly pricier than on a normal Friday or Saturday night. If we did nothing, we would end up with FEWER cars available on the Uber network then even a normal weekday evening… *exactly* when we need them most.

So how do we make Halloween Uber?

Our goal at Uber is to provide the Uber experience to as many people as possible. When a bunch of you can’t get a car, please know that there are heads banging against walls in frustration at Uber HQ. For Halloween, we’re going to do our best to get you to your parties (and keep our foreheads intact). So here’s the plan:

Surge Pricing up to 2x

For Halloween only, we’re using surge pricing to manage supply. On Friday 10/28 and Saturday 10/29 from 7pm to 3am, Uber rates will increase by as much as 2x, based on real-time demand.

Update: 12/27/2011

As we continue to learn from surge events like Halloween or New Year’s Eve, we will make regular changes to the surge pricing mechanism to improve the chance of you getting an Uber experience. We will be removing the 2x price cap for short durations during extreme demand in order to make sure cars stay on our system and there is always an Uber ride available.

What that means is that rates on Halloween may increase up to 2x over the night BUT when more supply becomes available and demand decreases, rates will automatically drop. This allows Uber to be a dependable option for your Halloween transportation while maximizing the number of rides: more drivers come out and stay on Uber with higher prices and we keep those cars full by adapting to changes in demand throughout the night.

You’ll always be notified when surge pricing is on

Android and iPhone users will need to download our latest app update before you can request a car on Halloween weekend. If our Halloween surge pricing is on, you’ll see our friend Jack-o’-lantern in the top right corner of the map. SMS users, although you won’t see our jack-o’-lantern, we’ll notify you that surge pricing is on when you text us your pickup address. Of course, we’ll always show you the current rates before you request a car.


Trick or Treat: Share your pictures to win $100 in our Halloween contest!

We’ve also got an awesome Halloween contest going on, which you can only enter through our new app. When you’re on a trip, tap the “My Trip” button and you’ll be able to “Share your Picture”. The pictures you submit will automatically be entered into our Halloween Costume Contest. In each city, the rider who takes our favorite photo will get $100 in Uber credits and be featured in an upcoming Uber blog post! We’ll be requiring everyone to update their iPhone and Android apps prior to Halloween so get your update on early and you’ll be free to trick or treat.

If you have any questions, please send me an email: travis AT uber DOT com.  Thanks and have a great Halloween!

Baby, it’s gonna be a thriller night!