We Can Learn from Uber and Airbnb
The parking industry ought to learn from Uber and Airbnb to give a customer a better experience. The extra something special. The key here is for parking industry to use technology to remove steps and make parking a non-event. Uber taught us that no calls, no receipts, no cash, no queues and no barriers work. These words on second day of the Parking Australia Outlook Conference certainly left a lasting impact on the attendees.
But what makes a conference great? Is it the theme, the venue, the business partners, the food, the location or the speakers? Perhaps it is all of these factors and more. To me, what makes a conference most memorable is a strong leader with a clear vision who applies this vision with respect for others. The speakers bring this vision to life while listening to participants and engaging. Improv tools are needed to avoid death by power point. Because improv is active listening and engagement.
What matters most is that my buttons are pushed and that I leave the conference hungry,
inspired and motivated.
Connection is tricky these days as we begin the new decade of 2020. We live in a day and age of fast, instant and popular. I read recently on Instagram, one so-called “influencer” joking that to be consider a good father he must get the most likes on his social media feed. Never mind his attentiveness, his being present with his child and engaged. It is all about that popularity contest. Often, content and value gets lost in smoke and mirrors. But appearances might be deceiving, as are those likes on Facebook.
I want to go to a conference where I don’t see the same old thing. I want to attend a conference to find awe. My time is valuable. I want my emotions to be set in motion. Yes, it is a bonus when the conference is set in a lovely venue. When there is great food and some fun entertainment. Yet, to me, what matters most is that my buttons are pushed and that I leave the conference hungry, inspired and motivated.
Welcome to Parking Australia Outlook Conference 2019. The conference, under the leadership of the new CEO of Parking Australia Stuart Norman, was not about likes, but content and value. It was a conference that pushed buttons. Stuart is a leader with adamant clear vision. Stuart is reverent of anyone and everyone, yet, he doesn’t cater to any popularity contest. Thus, the buzz in the halls of Crown Melbourne, Australia, Nov 27-29 was a cornucopia of ideas connecting the old to the fresh and the new. Connecting as Connecting Mobility to serve the people.
It all started with the Opening Reception of Outlook 2019 Wednesday evening. It was wonderful to mingle with exhibitors and attendees on the exhibit floor while tasting some of Australia’s delicacies such as prawns and crab cakes. Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy? How could you miss those, while tasting the best oysters at a dinner with one of my kind entertaining, generous colleagues? Thursday morning brought opening remarks by Stuart Norman and then welcoming Remarks by Sharon Prior, President, Parking Australia. For those of us in the U.S.A. and Europe, head to Australia for their next conference. It is like reading a great a novel: You will learn a ton about yourself and your company seeing what your Down Under colleagues are up to. The keynote from David Bartlett, former Premier of Tasmania, showcased this. No fear, beginner’s mind and curiosity are a must in any problem solving and in company culture.
A gamut of Thursday and Friday sessions followed. Such as “The Future is Lifi” by Geoff Timbs, Philips Lighting/Signify, “Parking is Powerful Influencer” by Kevin Orr, Liftango and “Changing Motorists Parking Behavior” by Steve Toal, DCA and Dean Robertson, City of Melbourne. The latter session was especially interesting since it showed how since the digital payments were introduced in Melbourne in 2014 through DCA PayStay app, parking payment compliance has improved by 150 percent. Open data allowed the city to make better decisions to bring bike lanes and fight congestions. The sensors enabled better enforcement.
The session that created the biggest impact was by Rob Brown, the co-founder of Kerb, “The Future of Parking in a Connected World.” The premise of this presentation was the invitation for the parking industry to wake up and not to repeat the mistakes of the taxi industry. According to Rob Brown, the parking industry today is very similar what the taxi industry was when Uber came along. “last-century mindset, low tech, lots of friction and a lack of data on who is in the vehicle. A handful of equipment manufacturers dominate the technology side of car parks, and nobody – be that the car park operators, the attendants, or the frustrated drivers – ever said they had an enjoyable experience in a car park. Paying for parking is a “grudge purchase.”
The parking industry ought to learn from Uber and Airbnb to give a customer a better experience. The extra something special. The key here is for the parking industry to use technology to remove steps and make parking a non-event. Uber taught us that no calls, no receipts, no cash, no queues and no barriers work. Thus, removing the gates that serve as barriers in parking garage is essential. Making pay-by-phone app easy to use, as well as using data to create more personal parking experience is non-negotiable. Parking technology should be in our pockets in our smart phones, instead of in pay machines, pay booths, pay stations or gates. Because after all, it is about technology serving the people who, in today’s hectic world, want a respite from any stress.
The best respite from stress, besides frictionless parking or a frictionless life, is celebration. And celebration is what Parking Australia does the best. On Thursday night, Nov 29th, the Parking Industry Awards 2019 were held at Metropolis Events, a beautiful venue with an amazing view of Yara River and CBD Melbourne. There was great entertainment from a local comedian, fantastic food, wine, jovial comradery and appreciation for the finalists. Eight winners were announced. Among them, Park & Fly and Park on King – Airport Parking, Sydney for Parking Organization of the Year. Stuart Norman said: “We applaud winners and finalists for pursuing the type of innovations that drive the parking industry forward, as well as campaigns that provide an enhanced level of customer experience.”
I applaud Parking Australia for bringing us an excellent conference that inspired me and all of those in attendance, to our own excellence in creating a better parking experience for those we serve. As Steve Jobs said: “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.” This is our Parking Life! Life of service!
Astrid Ambroziak is Editor of Parknews.biz and Creative Director, Parking Today. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org