Parking Apps 101:
Exploring Today’s Mobile Landscape
Parking has gone mobile. As people rely more and more on their smartphones, a huge range of mobile apps have emerged in the parking industry, from payment processors to reservations to information databases. When you factor in similar names and capabilities, it can be hard to keep them all straight.
With the parking industry experiencing rapid changes, it is increasingly important to have a baseline understanding of the mobile landscape. These apps can be useful partners to you and help drive revenue for your business.
The main categories and subcategories of parking apps today are outlined here to give you a sense of their capabilities and differences. Examples are included, but the lists are by no means exhaustive.
I hope this piece can serve as an introductory guide to the world of parking apps and simplify your search for mobile partners. On-street apps are covered first, followed by off-street apps. Feel free to jump to the sections that best apply to you.
On-street parking apps
Many apps have been created to support on-street parking for municipalities, whether private label or branded, and include mobile payments, enforcement and on-street parking information.
Payments Apps & Software
In today’s mobile world, customers want the flexibility of paying from their phone, even for street parking. Many mobile payment solutions out there enable you to accept mobile payments for your municipality or business. These tout many benefits, including a better customer experience, increased revenue, reduced equipment cost and improved compliance.
Many offer a suite of mobile services, including enforcement and private label offerings. These categories are discussed in more detail below. Some mobile payment solutions also offer transit capabilities for municipalities, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop.
Consider your current needs as well as the functionalities you may want in the future to determine which mobile solution is right for you.
Examples: GoParkIt, Parkmobile, Passport, PayByPhone
Some payment solutions include enforcement as an offering. As an operator or municipality, you can integrate directly with enforcement equipment to issue and manage parking citations. You also can accept in-app payments from customers. When customers can pay more easily and quickly, that translates into more timely conversion and increased revenue.
Examples: Passport, Parkmobile, GoParkIt
Private label, or white label, app solutions are used by municipalities, so they can get the city-branded app experience without having to create their own parking app. These city-specific private label apps allow drivers to pay for and extend metered parking on-the-go from their phones.
Examples: GoParkIt, Passport
Information apps serve as a database for on-street and off-street parking, providing information on locations, hours and rates. For on-street parking, these apps often include details for max time limits, estimated parking space availability, payments accepted and a street view image.
Examples: Parkopedia, ParkMe, ParkNav
Some mobile payment solutions also offer transit capabilities for municipalities, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop.
Off-street parking apps
A huge variety of apps have been developed to support off-street parking operators, including reservations, on-demand valets, general information and mobile payments.
Online reservation apps help you to sell excess inventory and increase your yield per space. Many reservation partners offer a dashboard where you can manage availability and blackouts, and generate reports. It’s a good way to reach mobile customers without having to develop your own app, facilitate payments or handle customer service. You can even work with multiple reservation partners at the same time to leverage different user bases and maximize revenue. Drivers experience the benefits by reserving a spot in advance in your facility.
Examples: SpotHero, ParkWhiz, Parking Panda, ParkJockey, ParkNow, AirportParkingReservations.com
On-demand Valet Apps
On-demand valet apps enable drivers to request a valet to pick up and drop off their car at a desired destination. They often offer premium services such as carwashes and oil changes. Similar to reservation apps, valet apps help you sell excess inventory. However, with valet apps, an employee of the valet company is parking the car in your facility, not necessarily a direct customer.
Examples: Luxe, ZIRX (enterprise only)
The information apps mentioned in the on-street category also offer information on off-street parking. These apps serve as a parking database, providing information on availability, locations, hours and rates. For off-street parking facilities, they often include details on the type of garage or lot (e.g., covered vs. uncovered), height restrictions, payments accepted and other notable features. Some allow drivers to reserve parking directly through the app.
Examples: Parkopedia, BestParking, Parker, ParkMe
Some large operators have created their own apps to help drivers find their specific locations, amenities and hours. But it’s worth noting that these apps can be expensive and time-consuming to develop and manage. Private label options out there can create an app with a branded look and feel. If neither of these options is in your budget, you could use a combination of other apps -- payments, information and reservations -- to create a similar mobile experience.
Examples: Icon, Laz, SP+, The Parking Spot, ParkMe/INRIX private label
Just as there are mobile payment solutions for on-street parking, many off-street operators use similar technology to enable mobile payments for their facilities. Mobile payment solutions tout many benefits, including a better customer experience, increased revenue, reduced equipment cost and improved compliance.
Examples: Parkmobile, Passport
Peer-to-peer (P2P) Apps
P2P apps enable individuals to buy and sell parking to one another, without the use of a parking operator. Even if these apps do not apply to you directly, it’s good to be aware of them and understand how they fit into the conversation surrounding parking apps.
Examples: Citifyd, ParqEx, Rover Parking, Spot, SpotPog
The parking industry has made significant technological strides in a short amount of time and shows no signs of slowing down. As the mobile landscape evolves, this list will certainly change along with it. But these apps offer huge opportunities for growth right now.
Explore the different categories and ask questions to determine which apps could be a good fit for you.
Andrea Kempfer de Vos, Content Marketing Manager at SpotHero, can be reached at email@example.com.