Q&A: Paul Sidwell on the World of Parking Reservation Platforms

ADVAM Interview

Summary

Paul Sidwell gives us a glimpse of the world of parking reservation platforms. He touches on its barriers and benefits, views on different markets across the globe and the importance of building eCommerce into your parking strategy.

Q&A

We sat down with Paul, ADVAM’s Strategic Development Director, to get an overview of parking reservation platforms and the important role they play in this age of Digital Transformation.

Hi Paul. Let’s start with the basics. Could you please explain to us what a parking reservation platform is?

Paul Sidwell: A parking reservation platform, simply put, is an online booking system that allows customers to pre-book their parking online and park on the day ticket-free and hassle-free. At the same time, it enables a parking business to create more relevant products and messages based on the insights that the platform collects, allowing the parking business to engage with their customers better.

What do businesses achieve by implementing this technology?

Paul Sidwell: There is a great opportunity for parking businesses to move into the online world and take advantage of the strong loyalty and customer insight which can be generated by a well thought-out digital strategy. There is an opportunity to convert customers from being “unknown” drive-up users, to “known”, loyal customers with clearly understood buying behaviours.

Collecting this data is the real objective. By using the insights from this data, businesses can improve their capacity planning and will be able to develop products, communications and promotions tailored to their customers’ needs, delivering improved yield, loyalty, financial return and a better customer experience. This has been proven in the European and Australian markets.

You mentioned that it has been proven in the European and Australian markets. How do they compare with the other markets across the globe?

Paul Sidwell: Every market is different. Some are in the early stages of the adoption curve of parking reservation platforms and some are ahead of the adoption curve. European and Australian markets are part of the latter. You will see car parks, airports and shopping centres in Europe and Australia already using parking reservation platforms beyond its basic functionalities, meaning some of them have already added parking products such as car wash or valet services or are utilising the data created from the platform to generate customer loyalty and improve their yield management.

Another interesting market to look at is the US market. On one hand, some segments of the industry are in the early days of exploring parking reservation platforms, while others, such as SpotHero, Passport Parking, The Parking Spot (all off-airport aggregators) are well ahead of the US adoption curve in terms of parking technology like reservation platforms.

Are there areas of interest or concerns relating to parking reservation platforms that are evident across the globe?

Yes. From my recent US visit, some of the discussions I’ve had were on the management of pre-bookings which involves how the platform directs customers to the right car park and how a business deals with customers who go to the wrong car park and the management of pre-payments. What happens if a customer overstays? How does the customer get charged for it? How are refunds managed?

Interestingly enough, these were also discussions I’ve had with some of the parking businesses here in Australia in the stages of early adoption. For the ones who are more mature, the conversation no longer revolves around the basic functionalities of the platform but it is about how they can take the platform to the next level. Yes, they already have a parking reservation platform implemented and their customers can now book their parking online but what is next. The conversation is now about customer loyalty and yield management. How can they tailor their products based on the data they have collected from the reservation platform? How can they map their parking “Customer Journey” with the insights they now have about their customer’s behaviour?

How do parking reservation platforms handle these types of activities?

Paul Sidwell: Parking reservation platforms cater perfectly for the complexities previously mentioned. Most parking reservation platforms can send booking confirmation emails which contain detailed instructions and maps to customers. It is also important to note that customers who pre-book have already considered the location of the car park before confirming their booking which essentially reduces the risk of them going to the wrong car park; however, it is inevitable that a few customers will still go to the wrong car park.

Many of our clients manage this by having clear car park signage and by ensuring that follow-up communications such as on the day reminders, are set-up within the reservation platform.

As for charging overstays, parking reservation platforms have integration with Parking Access Revenue Control System (PARCS) to handle overstays at the exit. If a customer overstays, PARCS will identify it and will charge the card accordingly.

If a refund has to be made, this can easily be processed in the Admin portal of the reservation platform. Parking reservation platforms are designed to provide a seamless end-to-end parking experience to the customers.

In terms of taking it to the next level, most parking reservation platforms can provide relevant customer analytics and easily be integrated with yield management/revenue management systems and customer loyalty programs.

What do you think are the barriers to implementing parking reservations?

Paul Sidwell: The two key barriers to implementing parking reservations in most businesses are:

  1. Failure to recognise parking as a revenue centre/generator - For many businesses, parking is seen as a service rather than an important source of revenue. This varies in every location and segment. For example, in many AU and EU airports, parking is seen as the largest source of non-aeronautical revenue. In many government or municipality run airports, the distinction has not yet been made. Until parking is recognised as a revenue centre, the value of tools like parking reservation platforms and more sophisticated yield management software will not be appreciated fully.

  2. Lack of a Digital Strategy or parking not being included in the Digital Strategy - It is important to recognise that the way end-users (parkers) engage with service providers has changed dramatically. The advent of the sharing economy (like Uber, AirBnB etc) shows that consumers search, explore and make buying decisions for services online and via applications. Parking is no exception. Not including parking in your business digital strategy means customers can’t find you.

What does the future hold for the parking industry?

Paul Sidwell: The technology landscape is changing each day, which continuously shapes consumer behaviour towards becoming more digital. Digital transformation is key to every business to keep up with this ever-changing world. For parking, this means establishing presence online through the implementation of a parking reservation platform and harvesting the benefits of the opportunities it presents.

Thank you Paul.

There is no doubt that technology is driving businesses today and changing the way consumers behave. It is now up to businesses to take the next step.

About ADVAM (www.advam.com)

ADVAM is a leadiAdvam logong global provider of payment solutions, providing a full suite of parking, reservation and ecommerce payment solutions. Managed on its own proprietary payment gateway, ADVAM solutions are PCI Level 1 and EMV compliant, removing the burden of legislative risk from customers. In addition, ADVAM’s transaction network handles dedicated links with acquirer banks in over 20 countries, offering the power of multicurrency acquiring and instant access to global markets.

ADVAM’s expertise enables custom integrations with merchants existing systems and processes. As such, ADVAM has a wide range of client solutions including Gatwick Airport, Dublin Airport, Sydney Airport, Swedavia, Wilson Parking, Etihad Stadium, Munich Airport, Copenhagen Airport, Westfield, NCP and many more.

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