Why Mobile Reservations and Scanners Boost Profits
Across a variety of industries, leading companies are leveraging mobile technology to increase customer satisfaction and make more money.
More than 1 million major retailers and restaurants, including Whole Foods, Macy’s, ToysRus, McDonald’s and Walgreens, accept Apple Pay, a mobile payment and digital wallet service. Most major airlines allow customers to scan their mobile boarding passes in order to board flights. Moviegoers simply scan their mobile movie tickets, purchased through companies such as Fandango or MovieTickets.com, to gain theater entrance.
However, when it comes to parking, we’re not quite there
One of the biggest concerns we hear from operators thinking about mobile reservations and scanners is return on investment (ROI). Operators wonder why they should invest in technology and if it will really make money for their clients, when they already have an attendant or other employee to manually accept online reservations.
In our experience, investing in scanners can have a huge payoff. Recently, we at SpotHero.com compared two similar parking facilities in the same area. One invested in a scanner and one did not. The facility with the scanner increased revenue by more than double and at a higher rate. Customers were willing to pay more money for the scanning experience. The increase in revenue covered the cost of the scanner in roughly six months.
Why do parking facilities that invest in scanners see ROI?
1- Seamless redemption: In addition to a better customer experience, technology that enables drivers to move through your garage faster means more business. An issue with a gate during peak hours means that customers can’t get out of the garage. As vehicles back up in a full lot, fewer can enter. Faster check-out equals more business during peak hours.
2- Overage opportunity:When a customer overstays his time in the garage, you automatically collect more revenue when he tries to exit using the scanner. A vended gate without a scanner has no revenue control, but a scanner solves this issue and provides garages with thousands of dollars in revenue just from customers overstaying.
3- Revenue control: Mobile reservations and scanners mean that you, the operator, have detailed data on your customers. You know when they go in and out, and how much they pay. You have powerful insights into customer behavior, increased accountability for your employees, and reduced room for human error.
4- Lower operational costs: Anytime there is an issue with a facility and customers need to call for help, it increases operational costs. With scanners, there is less human error and leakage from the call center opening the gate. In addition, reducing the need for a call center further cuts costs.
5- Frictionless technology: Consumers have a new standard that they are accustomed to when interacting with products. They expect a product to be easy to use and glitch-free. If parking doesn’t provide that same frictionless experience, other modes of transportation become enticing alternatives. Just look at companies like Uber and Lyft, which in roughly five years have become more valuable than the entire parking industry, largely due to their ease of use in hailing a ride. If you can hail a cab, check public transit times, or find a place to dock your bike via mobile app, you expect to do the same for parking. Not only that, but drivers choose a location with a scanner over one that does not, as shown by the example above.
6- Improved customer experience: Installing scanners along with mobile reservations help people move through your facility more efficiently. They don’t have to worry about holding on to a ticket or keeping a record for their expenses. Payment is simple and fast. Drivers will look forward to an easy experience the next time they are in the area and need a place to park, building your customer loyalty.
How can you start increasing profits with mobile reservations and scanners?
1- Get smart on scanners:There’s no need to do all the work yourself. You can take advantage of those who are familiar with scanners –parking reservation platforms and cutting-edge equipment vendors. Knowing all the details about pros and cons and ROI will arm you to make better-informed decisions in a dynamic parking environment. The technology is proven, and garages have already seen millions of dollars in revenue and ROI.
2- Determine ideal occupancy:The next step is determining your ideal occupancy. By focusing on historical and live data from web and mobile users, online reservation platforms can use yield management to tell you the optimal price to attract the most customers during certain times of day. It can also tell you at what times you have peak occupancy and what would happen to your occupancy rate if you were to raise or lower your prices by a dollar. The key is to make changes fast with the data at hand, in order to price spots better and reach your ideal occupancy.
3- Invest in scanners, where it makes sense:Scanners and upgraded equipment do not make sense for every location. However, they make sense in many more locations than you would believe. Do not default to “There’s no ROI”; instead, investigate where and how they could work for you. Already hundreds of locations across the country have made a large ROI multiple and helped show that some parking management companies are on the cutting-edge of what’s possible.
With these easy integrations, you’ll be enjoying the profits provided by mobile reservations and scanners in no time.
Mark Lawrence, Co-Founder and CEO of SpotHero, an on-demand parking marketplace,
can be reached at