The management of parking facilities, day-to-day operations and key features and functionalities of parking systems has evolved swiftly and, in many ways, dramatically in recent years. Yet, with all of the changes that have occurred, one of the primary goals of this industry has not: reducing cost and maximizing profit.

The trend toward automated self-park systems started in Europe in the 1970s and began gradually to spread in the U.S. in the late 1980s, allowing parking facilities to significantly reduce operating costs while potentially expanding operating hours.

Automation also contributed to solving another challenge, which was associated with the cash nature of the parking business: theft and security.

At the time, three players were predominant in the U.S. market, and they comprised about 90% of it. Other manufacturers entered the U.S. market later in the 1990s to expand their business from European markets, where their companies were founded, and the competitive scenario suddenly became more complex.

Hardware was still the main focus of parking operations, and manufacturers worked diligently to “build a better box” with new designs to be more aesthetically pleasing and to increase through-put with new and improved internal components.

Credit card in/credit card out functionality with online authorization came early. It offered savings to the operator by providing a ticketless system, lower head count with less need for cashiers, and more security because cash was not being handled by employees.

Ingress and egress times were reduced, providing a fast and seamless experience for customers, especially during peak traffic periods.

Large and complex parking locations such as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport shifted from a predominantly cash system to a credit card in/credit card out system, which sustained tremendous conversion rates of users and continues today, constituting about 80% of its transactions. This was a revolutionary advancement in parking automation, which brought benefits to both the user (quicker and frictionless user experience) and the operator (fewer operational costs and better service).

Fast-forward to today, and the focus has shifted more toward flexible software and mobile solutions accessible anytime and anywhere from multiple devices; advanced functionalities, reporting tools and new services with the adoption of new business models, major investments in R&D and agile development processes.

Equally important is being able to deliver and maintain the best possible customer experience across “cloud,” on-premises and mobile apps.

The needs of parking operators have become much more sophisticated in terms of monitoring and reporting. Web-based and secure management systems allow for real-time monitoring of alarms, occupancy, LPR, video streams, intercom and geo-location.

Parking management can learn and understand the usage patterns of their customers and develop and/or revise business objectives and strategies based on the powerful reports, customization options and reporting that are available and at their fingertips.

Visual and graphical output makes the complex statistical analyses easier to understand and interact with the data, enables management to communicate, and explicate customer insights to optimize marketing opportunities.

With the increase of new technologies and solutions on the market, it is also important today to have an “open architecture” in order to allow easy integrations with third party solutions: This can allow for seamless interconnection to third party applications and offers extensive integrated reports. 

Reporting capabilities of parking management systems are better able to help operators re-evaluate their business goals based on the plethora of data that can be easily and quickly made available for use.

In the past, the move from cashier-based parking facilities to fully automated systems helped to simplify and streamline many parking operations. Today, the shift toward digital processes with online pre-booking, pre-payment, validations, and mobile digital ticketing and payments has further optimized parking operations and made the user experience even more frictionless.


Visual and graphical output
makes the complex statistical analyses easier to understand
and interact with the data


In addition, user data that can now be gathered is invaluable to operators due to the amount of consumer information that can be captured via apps and digital solutions. “Pushing” notifications to loyal customers’ mobile devices, notification of local events or special promotions, and changing rate structures based on usage and occupancy data are possible, helping management maximize revenue.

A “smart” management system also offers new revenue streams for operators and serves as a digital marketing device, allowing video content and ads to be showcased through any screen display in the network (paystations, VMS displays, dedicated videos, etc.), turning them into a revenue generating tool.

The system also can be made available to third-parties to display advertisements, offering nearby companies an excellent opportunity to increase their business visibility and for operators to drive more value to their business.

The emergence of digital and mobile solutions in the parking industry is equipping parking facility owners and operators with more tools to develop strategies and better business practices, to manage staff more efficiently, and to strive toward the ultimate goal of business and revenue growth and maximization.

Contact Ilaria Riva, Marking Manager for HUB ParkingTechnology, at ilaria.riva@hubparking.com.

Article contributed by:
Ilaria Riva
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