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Parking Talks: Combatting COVID-19

During the Parking Network Virtual Conference parking experts discussed the impact of COVID-19

During the first edition of our Parking Network Virtual Conference, we welcomed industry experts to discuss the impact that COVID-19 is having on the parking industry. Here are the highlights from Lester Mascon, Hans Puvogel, Dieme Ketel, Neil Corr, Jeff Perkins, and Eliseo Diaz.

And, don’t forget to join us on 26th and 27th May, for the second edition of the Parking Network Virtual Conference, when we will be shining the spotlight on how municipalities are tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

How Do You Think the Parking Industry Will Evolve?

Dieme: The recovery of airport parking will be heavily dependent on aviation, but as people begin to travel again they may be unwilling to use public transport and so parking occupancy may increase.

Jeff: Whilst occupancy is down, mobile app usage is up to 70-90% where it's usually around 50% versus the meter. So coming out of COVID-19 the use of contactless payment options, mobile apps, and reservations will increase.

Hans: The parking industry will be strengthened by the crisis because nothing is more compatible with social distancing than your own car! And your car will have to be parked somewhere.

Neil: COVID-19 will provide an opportunity for operators to look at the financial implications of not harnessing the convergence of data to create agile ecosystems.

Eliseo: COVID-19 will allow us to accelerate new initiatives and encourage operators to transform their parking facilities and question what other sources of revenue they can implement.

What Solutions Are Most Suited to Currently Implemented Measures?

Illustration of cars parked on-street with parking meters and a woman using contactless phone to pay.

Eliseo: Whilst there will be a lot of innovative ideas, many solutions are already available, such as online reservations, mobile payments, and license plate recognition, and their uptake will vary by mode of parking.

Lester: We might see a shift to typically premium options, or reservation and app-based systems. And ticketless and frictionless parking will become more of the standard than it is today.

Hans: Solutions that are deeply integrated with the vehicle are the right solution. So taking contactless payments a step further and integrating it with the vehicle to create a completely touch-free, touchless experience.

Jeff: Today, when you're evaluating parking technology, it is less about whether it does everything you need, but if it integrates with other tools. Technologies that integrate well with other players are going to become more important for the industry as we move towards contactless payments.

Have You Already Started Planning for after the Pandemic?

Lester: At the moment, the most important thing we can do is be there for our clients and offer whatever support we can, whether it is something we wouldn’t normally do or isn’t even something we can monetize.

Dieme: COVID-19 has allowed us to speed up 180 projects. Normally, with an operation of 71 million passengers, we have to complete jobs within four hours overnight, but now we have 24 hours.

Neil: We've seen a very big halt in terms of opportunities with new airports. But yield management is not something that you'll decide to do one minute and not the next, so we're trying to understand how to help airports continue with long investment projects.

Do You Think Traditional Work Practice or Strategy Will Change?

Woman attends an online meeting on her laptop

Lester: Companies will realize that working from home can work out okay. And, people will begin to see the value in the digital strategies they have been employing.

Eliseo: It is important to streamline internal processes, strategies, and initiatives, not only to work through this crisis but to prepare for other possible scenarios.

Dieme: I think travel and aviation will change a lot. Now that we have more experience in online methods people are less likely to fly from Amsterdam to London for a one-hour meeting.

Hans: I wonder what working from home means for parking because if people choose to work from home will they still live in city centers or would they prefer to live in the suburbs or countryside? I believe it would be good for parking because a lot of people working in the city don’t own a car, but when they live in the countryside they will need a car and somewhere in the city to park it.

Jeff: During the COVID-19 pandemic we have enabled charitable donations through the ParkMobile app, and we’ve raised over $30,000 for local charities so far. Coming out of coronavirus when we partner with cities we will be looking not just at parking but at helping good causes in the area.

Which Products Will Be Popular Immediately after the Crisis?

Dieme: Self-parking products will probably start up first, but we will also be working on how to make valet parking safe and the way we promote it to make travelers feel safe.

Jeff: People will become much more purposeful when planning their trips and so they will want to make reservations ahead of time, as it offers an extra level of security and the possibility to interact less with parking machines.

Hans: We will see the repurposing of parking assets into last-mile logistic hubs to make better use of those assets, for example, overnight. We will see is a strongly growing demand for new solutions in a more diversified revenue mix, meaning in particular last-mile logistics will grow significantly.

Lester: I think the focus will shift from revenue control to reducing staff on-site and providing wraparound solutions for existing systems. So getting the intercom connectivity to control command centers, placing devices that accept reservations, and contactless payments.

Would You Say Now the Parking Industry Is at High Risk?

Chalk board illustration of a man at risk of being squashed by wooden dominos

Hans: The current business model for a lot of commercial operators is definitely putting the industry at risk. Relying on low-interest rates and a steady cash flow puts you in a difficult spot during times like these.

Jeff: I think every industry is at high risk right now. I think companies need to make smart decisions right now, manage their expenses very closely, manage their programs, and preserve their cash.

Eliseo: The industry is definitely not at risk. As long as there are vehicles, there will be a need for parking. But I think we have to get creative and find different sources of revenue that parking facilities can generate.

Lester: If you carry on trying to do business the way you always have then it definitely puts you at risk. I think certain segments are at a higher risk, so valet and event parking will take longer to recover whilst public parking will probably recover sooner.

Don't forget to join us for the second edition of our Parking Network Virtual Conference, taking place on 26th and 27th May. Our panel discussions will feature parking experts from municipalities across Europe and the United Space.

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