Parking’s Secret to Staying Relevant in a Mobile World
By Mark Lawrence
In 1991, the world changed forever when the Internet became available to the public. Consumers turned to their computers for all their information and communication needs.
Eventually, it became possible to make purchases online as well, which transformed the worldwide economy. Think about the last time you purchased airline tickets. Where did you buy them?
The convenience of online retailers expanded the market for consumers. More people buy merchandise − including airline tickets – online because the purchasing process is so much easier. It’s just one click away.
50% of Consumer Spending will be Mobile by 2020
Today, mobile technologyis replacing the World Wide Web and dominates both consumer and social activities. There are apps for everything you did on the web before. But rather than having to log on to a computer, you can access content instantly via your mobile device.
Hungry for dinner? Order food on your phone with GrubHub. Is your laundry piling up? Use Washio to have it done and delivered with the touch of a button. You can even order groceries on the go with Instacart and have them delivered at a time of your choosing.
Twenty-nine percent of cellphone owners describe their cellphone as “something they can’t imagine living without,” according to the Pew Research Center. Not only are people choosing to use their phones for information access, many can’t imagine a lifestyle that does not include the convenience and instant gratification that come with mobile capabilities.
According to TechCrunch.com, 50% of spending will be made on smartphones and tablets by 2020. This shift in consumer behavior is affecting every industry, from food service to self-storage. Adweek states that 62% of millennials are comfortable connecting their payment information to an app from a retailer that they use frequently.
There are restaurants that I won’t order from anymore because they don’t accept mobile payments. That’s how powerful the convenience of mobile commerce is. Businesses that do not recognize and embrace the mobile purchasing economy will miss a significant opportunity for increased growth and happy customers.
Parking Could be the Next Industry to
Ninety-one percent of American adults own some kind of cellphone (Pew Research Center). And those with smartphones want to use them to search for and compare parking options instantly. Google searches for “parking app” have grown tremendously every year since 2009.
Today, parking operators are presented with a great opportunity to take advantage of mobile technology, which is clearly a pervasive aspect of drivers’ daily lives. By making your facility visible via mobile, you can intercept those drivers searching for parking on their phones and guide them to your facility.
If your facility is not visible online or via a mobile platform, drivers searching for parking online will have no way of knowing your facility even exists. You just lost those potential customers.
Access an Untapped Customer Base with Mobile Reservations
You can take your mobile presence one step further by integrating mobile commerce into your operations. This means that consumers can not only find your facility via mobile, but they can purchase there, too. Drivers looking for parking via mobile are the same people who pay for food, laundry and entertainment right on their smartphones. And they expect the same convenience from their parking experience.
If your company has a mobile presence but does not yet offer reservations via mobile, there is a chance that a driver could find another location on the way to your facility, either on the street or with a competing company. Locking in mobile reservations is a good way to guarantee revenue from the money you spend on mobile marketing.
Mobile Reservations Benefit You, Your Customers, and the Environment
In addition to giving you access to an entirely new customer base, integrating mobile commerce into your operations has a host of other benefits.
You can streamline your redemption process by pairing mobile reservations and compatible hardware. Not only does this technique improve customer experience (keeping them coming back to your facility), it also empowers you to have complete revenue control.
Mobile and online reservations also give you the flexibility to change your prices based on fluctuating demand. While it is more difficult to change your drive-up rate, you can use the principles of yield management with your mobile customers to fill more spots.
An often-overlooked benefit of mobile reservations is their positive impact on the environment. As a completely paperless solution, mobile reservations empower your company to reduce its carbon footprint.
How Can You Implement Mobile Reservations Today?
You can build out a mobile development team and a reservation platform on your own, but creating the functionality doesn’t necessarily mean customers would use the platform. That’s where mobile marketing comes in, and you would need another team of specialists to do that.
An alternative that would use fewer of your company’s resources would be to partner with an existing mobile parking platform. You would not have to build out the technology, and drivers are already searching for parking there. This is your opportunity to be visible to those customers.
Follow these steps to find out if a parking app could effectively help you achieve a mobile presence:
1- Find out how many spaces in your facility are empty during various times, including days, nights, weekends and events.
2- Calculate how much additional revenue you would be earning if those spots were filled.
3- Do the research on parking apps that service your city. A vendor could be able to help you capture online demand and fill those empty spots.
Mobile commerce is here to stay, and there are many customers (and additional revenue) just waiting to be captured online. Integrating mobile commerce into your parking operations will allow you to stay accessible to the digital consumer.
As mobile phones become an extension of the very way we live our lives, off-street parking operators must take notice and adapt in order to stay competitive in the digitized world.
Mark Lawrence is Co-Founder and CEO
at SpotHero, an on-demand parking app and website. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.