With the holiday season upon us and my enjoyment of festive films (the cheesier the better) evident to all who know me, I am reminded of The Holiday, that modern classic featuring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black where transatlantic love triumphs by the end. How is this relevant in any way to the parking industry? Well, the premise of The Holiday centers around home exchange, as lovelorn Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap homes for the festive season. Now stay with me here, a current trend, not restricted to the parking industry, is a shift towards the sharing economy.
What is the Sharing Economy?
Through the peer-to-peer sharing of items, time and skills the sharing economy offers an alternative method of distribution for goods and services. In this collaborative consumption model items can be consumed by multiple people, helping to minimize waste and create cooperatives. But what does a sharing economy look like?
Often when I cast my eye down my Instagram or Facebook feed I am bombarded by pictures of friends cuddling dogs when I know full well they aren’t pet owners. How can it be possible? Three words: Borrow My Doggy. Recognizing that hectic working life can be difficult for our four-legged friends and keen to ensure their dogs are well cared for, this community of dog owners reaches out to the many animal lovers who are desperate to own dogs but can’t. Together, they come to arrangements to share dogs from a simple walkies to a whole weekend away.
Peer-to-peer sharing isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is certainly growing in popularity. With homeowners making their homes available to travelers through Airbnb, coworking hubs helping start-ups, small businesses and the self-employed to avoid exorbitant overheads, and crowdfunding ventures such as Kickstarter giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to find funding from hundreds or thousands of interested parties, the sharing economy stretches into a wide variety of industries.
The Sharing Economy in the Parking Industry
Although certain elements of the sharing economy may pose a threat to the parking industry, it has also created plenty of opportunities. And so, whilst ridesharing and car sharing may be changing the way that people travel, there will be ways for the parking industry to embrace these new communities and business models. Furthermore, initiatives such as space sharing are helping the industry to maximize increasingly limited space.
There is no doubt that ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are transforming the airport forecourt and ground access model. And, as consumers increasingly rely on ridesharing companies, niches such as airports and municipalities, that rely heavily on traditional parking for revenue, will need to find ways to adapt or even capitalize on this changing demand.
Looking further at airport parking, car sharing is another peer-to-peer sharing model gaining traction within this niche. There are an estimated 1 billion cars on the road, a figure that is expected to rise to 1.5 by 2030. And with many of these cars being used only 4% of the time, it is clear that private car ownership is not an efficient model. Car sharing companies such as Car & Away and TravelCar are redefining car ownership, car rental and airport parking to create a connected peer-to-peer car sharing community. Travelers have the opportunity to rent out their car to other travelers whilst they are on holiday, helping to reduce the parking footprint.
Meanwhile, space sharing companies such as Onepark, FlexePark, Kerb and ParkHound are finding ways to maximize the existing parking footprint by opening up underutilized parking facilities. Offices, schools, hotels, venues and shopping centers, even driveways and curbs – all tend to fall vacant for a significant amount of time.
Offices, for instance, often located in residential areas, have parking spaces that lie vacant throughout the evening when many residents are returning from work and looking to park their car. Using a space sharing platform can help businesses give back to their community by making otherwise vacant spaces available to residents.
An Argument For and Against
From an early age, we are taught that sharing is caring, but we also learn that where there are pros, there surely must be cons. So what are the benefits and downsides of the sharing economy?
The sharing economy can provide cheaper goods and services whilst unlocking extra income for providers. Taking car sharing as an example, instead of losing money on airport parking, travelers can make money by renting their cars out whilst on holiday. Similarly, businesses can rent out their parking spaces outside of office hours as a new revenue stream.
The communities and cooperatives that the sharing economy creates help to generate constructive relationships. So, whereas before an office with a vacant parking lot may have caused discord in a neighborhood, through space sharing it becomes a benefit for residents and the business becomes better integrated into the community. And, car owners using a car sharing scheme do not have the guilt that their car will lie vacant for their annual two-week vacation, instead, it can be put to use by others.
Of course, as sharing becomes more commonplace and communities grow there is the possibility for benefits to scale. But there are plenty of hurdles to jump and attitudes to overcome before we reach this point. The sharing economy requires a high level of trust and cooperation, qualities that require careful nurturing. Car sharing requires the car owner to put a large degree of trust in the car renter, regardless of the cover and insurance provided, no car owner will be thrilled to return from holiday to find their vehicle damaged or missing. And when parking spaces are shared between groups with differing needs it becomes important that all parties abide by use agreements.
It’s hard to predict exactly how the sharing economy will develop, but likely the ability to earn passive income and create value from property and possessions you already own will be a more and more tempting proposition. As this happens all industries, including the parking industry, will have the opportunity to adapt to meet demand, and sharing will be adopted into traditional business models.
Are there other examples of the sharing economy at work in the parking industry? Get in touch to let us know how they operate and what impact they have on the industry.