Autonomous, Not Anonymous
Technology AND People Make for a Better Parking Experience
Top trends in airport parking may seem less about people and more about technology, but talent is still at the heart of every latest-and-greatest way to improve the parking experience.
Apps and automation may take the human cashier out of the equation, but they don’t remove the need for human interaction. The best technological solutions in airport parking today answer that need for interaction by creating more opportunities to affect the traveler experience.
Everyone wants a seamless parking experience, but everyone’s experience isn’t the same.
Everyone wants a seamless parking experience, but everyone’s experience isn’t the same. There’s your business traveler flying every week, the family on their big yearly vacation, and the couple who hasn’t flown since you could still wear your shoes through security. Once upon a time, their parking experience all funneled through the hands of a cashier. Now it’s likely an automated replacement — but that’s still leaving most of the opportunity to make a positive impact to the exit experience.
Changing parking from a payment model to a booking model creates opportunities across the whole parking experience that can better answer each individual traveler’s needs.
Let’s take the business traveler. They want to get in and out, they know where their ideal spots are located, and they never want to wait in line. If they can book a parking spot, then parking becomes something they can plan, lock in a payment method and be done with. That helps them leave their house at the last possible second and gets them off the lot as fast as possible. More than simple convenience – it’s an improvement they’re willing to invest their time and attention in.
This leads to two very big pluses for airport parking. One, it’s encouraging the traveler to interact with a branded experience, and two, it helps you shift away from simple, static pricing to a dynamic model that helps maximize revenues.
The family on vacation wants to avoid juggling any more than they need to. That infrequent traveler may really appreciate the opportunity to look ahead and get a feel for what to expect, even if they don’t book their spot in advance. Automation that gives each traveler control and information is key.
If a family knows the cheaper lot will involve getting the kids on and off a shuttle bus to the terminal, they can make a more informed decision and decide if their time is worth that premium spot. An infrequent traveler can make the informed choice to arrive earlier so the shuttle isn’t an unexpected, frustrating delay.
And if they’re not sure, or they don’t know, they should be able to ask. There’s not a cashier to bug (and a line to hold up), but there is someone to call. Or someone to contact through the app. That’s one place where the human element is key. Knowledgeable parking talent can advise new users of your booking or payment system and troubleshoot any issues that could block exit lanes or worse.
That’s also where you re-create the opportunity for real face-time. Think of a parking ambassador as your best cashier, the one everyone remembers, freed from the confines of the booth and ready to solve problems.
In fact, many airports that phase out cashiers use ambassadors in their exit lanes to assist travelers or address issues with their Parking Access Revenue Control System. With parking ambassadors always physically on site, your great customer support becomes a real satisfaction driver.
People may not always remember when their parking was “hassle-free,” but they do remember how easily their problems were solved. Your parking ambassador can be trained to look out for elderly travelers who need assistance, or to help customers and employees access value-added services like jumpstarts or tire changes to get them back on the road.
With the right technological tools in hand — your parking ambassadors and your central parking management team create more positive interactions. That drives satisfaction and encourages more informed use of your services, increasing revenue generation from your parking operations.
Scott Hutchison, is SVP of Landside Operations, ABM Aviation. You can reach him at Scott.Hutchison@abm.com. Lauria Okoroh is GM, Tampa Landside Operations, ABM Aviation.