The Next Generation of Parking and Transportation Technology
The parking, transportation, and mobility industry is transforming rapidly, with owners, operators, and decision-makers adopting and implementing more innovative technologies to streamline their operations and better serve their customers. In recent years (and even months) our industry has seen a revolution in the development and integration of new solutions and technologies.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had already sought to identify and implement new solutions into their parking facilities to not only streamline their operations, but also to create more diverse and convenient parking and transportation options for their users. However, since the COVID-19 crisis affected every community in the nation for almost the entirety of 2020, many municipalities, universities, transit agencies, and parking facility owners and managers have had to fast-track any initiatives they had been considering. These institutions and organizations have been forced to evaluate their operations, technologies, and customer service practices to meet the changing needs of their communities, adhere to new requirements, and provide safe and comfortable experiences for their users.
With rapidly changing customer demographics, customer behavior and expectations have
These changes are necessary to helping ease people back into whatever normal will look like in the coming weeks, months, and years when it comes to returning to offices, attending larger group events like concerts and sporting events, and of course, traveling. The way that people will get to and from these events, and their comfort level doing so, will be affected in some way by their parking and transportation experience.
Parking and transportation will be the very first component of the travel journey to any of these events. Operators will have a significant responsibility to make that experience as comfortable and efficient as possible, while providing travelers with the greatest sense of safety and security possible. They can achieve this through a number of ways that we will discuss throughout this article including providing touchless technology solutions, offering a variety of nearby transportation and mobility options, and providing their staff with the solutions resources to effectively serve their customers while giving them the space to feel comfortable traveling.
Here are just a few of the ways new technologies could affect the parking, transportation, and mobility industry as we look toward the future including new revenue streams, enhanced customer service, and new parking and mobility solutions:
• Integrate touchless parking solutions
For years, parking owners and operators have been moving toward providing their customers with more modern technologies like touchless parking to offer a more convenient experience. The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically accelerated this transformation, with many in the public now expecting touchless solutions that reduce their interactions with other individuals, as well as other people (like parking attendants). The goal of these solutions is to offer a completely seamless parking experience, enabling the user to perform all of the necessary tasks from arrival, to parking, payment, and through departure all using their mobile devices. While these solutions had already begun to increase in popularity in recent years, the post-COVID parking universe will see a significant increase in facilities utilizing these solutions, creating a safe, comfortable, and convenient experience for their customers.
• Utilize aggregator and reseller channels more efficiently
Parking operators allocate the inventory of their parking spaces to the aggregators, to resell via their mobile app. Aggregators offer special rates and bring in parking customers besides the operator’s typical daily or monthly customers. However, not all aggregators are equally successful in all the markets, with some aggregators not always able to sell the inventory allocated to them. Further, others have the capacity to sell more, but can fall short of the inventory allocated to them. In addition to aggregators, there are other players, like hotels, hospitals, theaters, event venues, etc., which play an integral role in the customer’s journey, and are potential channel partners for the operators. Innovative inventory management solutions allow the operator to take charge of their sales channels, while capitalizing on the strengths of the aggregators and resellers.
• Practice comprehensive and integrated marketing
With rapidly changing customer demographics, customer behavior and expectations have drastically changed. Customers are more informed, and they are constantly searching for more options as the information is more readily available to them online and on their mobile devices. Besides the traditional competition from neighboring parking garages, competition is coming from unforeseen sources as TNCs, company-provided buses, self-driving cars, etc., introduce themselves into the customer journey. Marketing for parking operators has become a more sophisticated affair.
• Effectively manage the customer journey
In addition to the parking experience, the way that people get to their destinations outside of vehicles will also have a significant impact on their experience. One of the key strategies for parking and transportation solution providers and operators in the coming months and years will be to create a comfortable and seamless “customer journey,” incorporating all of the various transportation and mobility solutions to create a convenient and customizable travel experience that meets individuals’ specific needs. Initially, many people may be hesitant to immediately return to public transit options. Of course, we expect this to eventually return to normal. However, in the short-term individuals may be more likely to utilize mobility solutions for shorter trips, or from their parking facility to their ultimate destination – those “last mile” trips. Parking facility owners and operators need innovative solutions to get naturally embedded into the customer’s day-to-day behavior.
It is hard to tell what the future will look like for the industry in the short- and long-term. But it’s important that parking owners and operators identify and implement technologies and solutions that will allow them to not only create a safe and comfortable experience for their customers, but also identify new revenue solutions and streamline their operations. The future of the parking and transportation experience will include all the solutions outlined here, as well as those that we haven’t even considered or invented yet. But ours is an industry with a history of leading the way in innovation, while navigating difficult times, and we know that the challenges of 2021 will be no exception.
Mo Singh serves as Business Development Director for ParkEngage Inc. He can be reached at Mo.Singh@parkengage.com. Rajiv Jain serves as the CEO of OutworX Corporation. He can be reached at Rajiv.Jain@outworx.com.