Why Businesses Should Shift to Providing Parking as a Service
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
Parking lots, garages and on-street parking spaces are often sources of anxiety and frustration for drivers, and there are unfortunately few ways to avoid using them. Parking is a necessary function that comes with automobile travel, whether it be to a retailer, airport, downtown city, or other core location to urban or suburban life.
But the concept of parking doesn’t need to elicit negative feelings in drivers, and it’s up to enterprise organizations that manage the parking process to change this. This change must begin with a shift in mindset.
Almost every enterprise organization that provides a service will declare that providing their consumers with the best and most efficient experience possible is central to their overall mission. Generating revenue and satisfaction in a sustainable manner is critical to the business operation.
This mantra usually relates only to what takes place inside a facility, such as comfortable seating in airports, discounts on clothing items, or free food samples throughout a mall —elements that tend to the consumer once they’ve already walked inside the building. But service to customers actually begins the moment they enter the premises, and this is likely to occur in a parking lot. Organizations must look outside the box and expand their boundaries of service to include all areas surrounding the facility that a consumer must navigate to reach their destination.
It may not often be blatantly stated, but an individual’s experience with an organization or location includes the time it takes to enter the area, find a parking space and exit afterward — and a hassle-free trip is always preferred.
A customer’s perception of the overall business is therefore influenced by the critical component of parking, demonstrating the need for organizations to take a service-based approach to this process. Circling an open-air parking lot struggling to find a free space does not give the impression that a business cares about the customer.
In fact, according to research by CBRE, 93 percent of respondents indicated that parking areas in the retail industry are extremely or very important to the company bottom line. On a 1-5 scale with 5 representing a score of “most important,” parking facilities ranked:
- 4.2 for the office sector
- 4.2 for industrial
- 4.5 for retail
Parking as a Service
Parking as a Service, the appropriate concept to address this challenge, follows the “as a Service” model that was derived from the software and cloud computing industry. Technology innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have placed the focus of obtaining recurring revenue on selling services rather than just a product.
Parking managers must follow along with this line of thinking, where it isn’t enough to simply let drivers know how many spaces are available in any given lot. To truly serve the customer, reliable direction to open spaces is critical.
This can be achieved through smart parking management infrastructure and intelligent solutions. Those that harness the power of sophisticated edge computing, deep learning, and artificial intelligence can provide drivers with the data at the exact time that they need it.
Through the use of smart sensors and LED screens, drivers can receive not only real-time updates of available spaces, but also guidance that communicates exactly where the spaces are located. This extra layer of service can minimize the time spent searching for an open space, cutting down on stress and providing better service overall from the moment of arrival.
Additionally, while effective parking is the main priority, drivers are also influenced by the ability to obtain critical information while on the road. LED screens can also display messaging such as advertising, media sponsorships or security announcements, creating a positive opinion from a customer toward an organization that genuinely cares about its customers.
The best part about this kind of Clever Parking technology used within the Parking as a Service model is that it benefits both sides of the operation. Drivers are satisfied, while parking space operators and managers experience a multitude of advantages, such as:
- Alerts for misusage or unpaid spaces, enabling quicker response
- Increased revenue through the ability to price according to occupancy dynamics
- Visualization of parking data with unprecedented insights
- Ability to generate revenue from partners displayed via omnidirectional LED signs installed on lampposts, on top of the parking guidance information
When it comes down to it, there aren’t many reasons why parking operators shouldn’t prioritize an efficient parking solution for their organization. Parking as a Service extends the true morals of business leaders looking to please the individuals that will be spending money at their facility.
It’s clear that the first place to start as far as adapting to this model is utilizing intelligent and advanced parking management solutions that facilitate a user-friendly, productive experience for all those involved.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
A few years ago, I worked with some ARISE-US members to carry out a survey of small businesses in post-Katrina New Orleans of disaster risk reduction (DRR) awareness. One theme stood out to me more than any other. The businesses that had lived through Katrina and survived well understood the need to be prepared and to have continuity plans. Those that were new since Katrina all tended to have the view that, to paraphrase, “well, government (city, state, federal…) will take care of things”.
While the experience after Katrina, of all disasters, should be enough to show anyone in the US that there are limits on what government can do, it does raise the question, of what could and should public and private sectors expect of one another?
When planning for new mobilities, it is important to be a little skeptical. Advocates often exaggerate the benefits and overlook significant costs. Here’s an example. Optimists predict that autonomous cars will reduce traffic congestion, crash risk, energy consumption and pollution emissions, but to achieve these benefits they require dedicated lanes for platooning (many vehicles driving close together at relatively high speeds). When should communities dedicate special lanes for the exclusive use of autonomous vehicles? How much should users pay for the privilege? How should this be enforced? Who will be liable if a high-speed platoon crashes, resulting in a multi-vehicle pile-up?
Infrastructure is on the tip of every mayor’s tongue. It’s no wonder, with billions in federal funding on the table for the first time in a generation and rapidly compounding infrastructure needs. American Rescue Plan dollars represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in communities, support resident priorities, and move the needle on racial equity all at the same time. Parks and playgrounds exist in an ideal sweet spot in each of these areas, and cities should consider making investments in these vital pieces of community infrastructure as part of their recovery and resilience strategies.