I toured an upmarket city center hotel this past week and was wowed by the fancy software and hardware that was installed to facilitate the many different types of parkers that the facility attracts. There are guests self park and guests valet. There are dailies and monthly contract parkers. There are people who are coming to events at the hotel, and even some cars that are overflow from other hotels. Its a ‘happening’ garage.
One comment stood out. ‘The hotel doesn’t really care if it makes money on the parking, as long as they break even, because it’s an amenity that they provide their guests and they want to make the experience as easy and seamless as possible.” Huh!
Let me tell you that if the hotel I stayed in during my trip had offered discounted adult beverages at the bar, or perhaps a cut rate on the pizza I ordered in my room, I might have felt that those amenities were great too, and quickly return to the hotel. The hotel feels it important to charge for those “amenities,” so why not parking.
I understand that the hotel wants to make the parking, booze, and food attractive to their guests, but they want to make money on them as well. We are looking at the party we will throw to exhibitors and speakers at PIE this coming March and I was floored as to how much it cost for the food and drink for a three hour event. The hotel lost no sleep over collecting that heavy fee. So what is different about parking?
We ran an article about hotel parking a few months ago and the theme was that hotels need to charge for parking just as they do for every other amenity. It makes no sense not to do so. New technology can make those charges easier to collect and ensures that the parker has a good experience. Preprinted codes that can be emailed to visitors and event guests can ensure that they enter and leave the garage without fuss.
And of course the hotel wants the driver to feel welcome at the first point of contact and feel well cared for as the leave for the last time. But not ‘worrying’ about the money means that perhaps its not there to pay for the quality of people or the technology required to ensure that everyone is made to feel warm and cuddly. Let’s face it you pay more at the Ritz Carlton and you are well cared for.