Getting a Handle on Airport Parking as Air Travel Returns to Normal
When Covid-19 first appeared just over two years ago, air travel came to a standstill. Those of us who planned to travel to San Diego for PIE that year experienced the first of what would be many cancellations. Now, though, we are returning to some semblance of normal. People are on the move again, for both work and play, and air travel has nearly returned to pre-Covid levels.
That’s good news for everyone associated with the air travel industry, including parking professionals. With air travel increasing, airport parking facilities are filling up again. In fact, many airport parking garages are busier than ever. Airport parking garages are filling up every day, leaving frustrated travelers to waste precious time searching for spaces.
There are a couple of reasons for this trend. First, in the aftermath of the pandemic, many travelers are hesitant to use public transportation, or even rideshare services, opting instead to drive themselves. Also, some airports temporarily closed satellite lots at the height of the pandemic when people stopped flying, and they haven’t all reopened yet. So, in the end, many airports are faced with record numbers of travelers seeking limited numbers of parking spaces. It’s a frustrating mix for both travelers and airport executives.
The Answer is in the Cloud
Most of the headaches associated with airport parking can be prevented with parking pre-booking. Parking pre-booking technology permits travelers to reserve parking close to their terminals in advance, before leaving the house or office. It also provides the certainty that a convenient parking space will be waiting when the traveler arrives at the airport.
Parking pre-booking platforms are designed and managed by experienced and accomplished parking reservations professionals. The pre-booking provider develops a program that will meet an airport’s unique needs, and then that technology is embedded right into the airport’s white labeled parking website. That way, the parking reservation program is presented as an integrated element of the airport experience, and the pre-booking process is seamless.
Here’s how the process works: when travelers make their plans to fly, they log onto the airport parking website and hit the link to reserve parking. The link takes them to the reservations page, and they are prompted to select their flight details. When the system recognizes the flight, it recommends the most convenient and appropriate location to park. The travelers then select their preferred location and reserve a spot. They can even reserve multiple spots for multiple vehicles if they traveling with a large party.
Once the spot is chosen, the reservations platform takes the travelers to the payment page, where they create an account or, if they are repeat visitors, log into an existing account. The travelers then choose a form of payment, are charged the appropriate fee for the number of days and spaces reserved. Once payment is made, the system provides a bar code, which is used to enter and exit the facility. The bar code can either be printed or sent to a smart phone or other portable device.
Offering parking pre-booking allows airports to improve the parking experience, and thus the entire airport experience, allowing them to select the parking areas that are most convenient to their gates and removing the stress of having to find parking once they arrive at the airport.
Parking pre-booking also provides important administrative benefits to airport parking managers. A pre-booking platform gives airports more control over their parking inventory by enabling them to assign specific parking spaces or areas to individual users. A pre-booking platform can also facilitate the creation and management of premium services, such as VIP or valet parking.
In fact, a parking pre-booking service can help generate additional revenue for the airport. In addition to providing access to premium parking services, the platform can also be set up to offer add-on services, such as vehicle detailing, flower delivery, and even dry-cleaning services (travelers just leave their clothes and when they return the cleaned clothes are already stored in the vehicle). Additionally, airports can set up the platform to allow businesses in the terminal, such as restaurants and bookstores to offer pre-book parkers access to specials and other deals, which can be offered via the platform, or directly to customers in texts sent to their phones.
Last, but certainly not least, a parking pre-booking platform also permits airport parking administrators to better manage airport parking facilities by providing real-time data about who is parking in certain areas, on what day, and when they tend to arrive and leave each day. This can be extremely helpful data for better managing airport parking facilities.
Also, because parkers pre-pay for parking online, the technology can eliminate long waits at garage exits and pay-on-foot machines. The last thing weary travelers want after a long flight is to have to wait in long lines to pay for parking! They want to get into their cars and be on the way home as quickly as possible.
Finally, the technology can provide long-term cost savings to airports by eliminating the need to purchase, maintain, and replace costly parking payment infrastructure. When parkers are paying online, airports don’t need to buy and maintain access and revenue control, pay-on-foot, or other types of payment equipment.
The platform also minimizes the need to staff payment booths, which saves additional money by reducing the number of garage employees requiring salaries and benefits. And adding pre-booking doesn’t require the installation of any infrastructure, so airports don’t have the same up-front capital costs that other parking technologies present.
A Surefire Headache Cure
As the air travel industry continues to rebound, airport parking facilities will continue to get busier and busier. Airports across the United States are already faced with full parking garages—and the ire of travelers who can’t find a parking space when they are rushing to make a flight. A cloud-based pre-booking platform can help mitigate these challenges by letting travelers reserve parking in advance.
Theresa Hughes is Chief Executive Officer of Chauntry, Ltd., the world’s leading provider of parking pre-booking technology. She can be reached at Theresa.Hughes@chauntry.com.