Public and Private Sector working Together — Oh, Pleeze….


Public and Private Sector working Together — Oh, Pleeze….

In Charlotte, NC, there is a problem at the airport.  They run out of parking space on the airport during the high traffic summer season. Nothing unusual there — virtually all airports have this issue. The Charlotte solution — start a $50,000 program to tell people the parking status on the airport.  Any mention of off airport parking alternatives.  Naaaah Nada, zip.

I Googled airport parking at Charlotte and I found a number of hotels that offer airport parking, plus a number of off airport parking operators.  Would the airport offer these hints as alternatives. Nope. and why not?

Its simple — they don’t want potential customers to be driven (pun intended) away from their very lucrative parking lots. What would happen if a traveler found that it was easier,quicker, and cheaper to park off airport and be shuttled directly to your terminal.

The question – is the airport there to offer a service (like a place to catch a plane) or to generate money off their parking. They don’t have enough parking during peak travel times, and its probably not economically feasible to build more parking just to cover those few weeks of the year, so why not recommend to their overflow customers that they try parking with private companies nearby?

There is no better PR than recommending the competition when you can’t provide the service yourself. I was in Lowes the other day and they didn’t have what I wanted so they recommended I go to a nearby hardware store for the solution. Was this a permanent change for me? Nope. It solidified my relationship with Lowes. 

I think it works the same with parking.  Of course it helps if your parking is in fact competitive — and you offer good service at competitive rates.  But then that’s another story, isn’t it.

Oh, and check out the "smart parking" web site — It works like this — you log on and there are potentially three letters — A B and C — A = "Ample Parking" — B = Be Prepared (Possible problems) — C = Congested Parking

There are also signs on the highway and a phone message. 

What did I expect?  I expected something that told me which lots were full, which were filling, and which were empty so when I left home I could plan where I was going to park…Maybe that’s on the phone.

By the way — parking is cheap in Charlotte — $3 a day in long term.  I wonder what would happen if they  bumped the rate a bit during high traffic periods where parking was scarce — you know good old supply and demand.  I’ll bet some people would carpool or take a shuttle or use uncle Charley to drop them off. Maybe enough to solve the parking problem AND most likely maintain the revenue stream.

Who knows?


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John Van Horn

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