The Parking Business Model


The Parking Business Model

I was on the phone this morning for an hour with a graduate student from the University of Colorado. His assignment was to come up with a business model for that perennial problem, making parking reservations.

I’m afraid I didn’t help much. See, I think that all the energy we spend concerning ourselves with making parking reservations (with the exception of reservations at off airport parking sites and some others mentioned below) is wasted, at least for now.

I think its too complicated and really doesn’t fix a problem, which is really a problem that doesn’t exist.

With the possible exception of New York City, park and ride locations, and shopping malls around Christmas time, how often do you find parking garages with "full" signs out? I mean really. Garage operators want to fill their garages. They put that full sign out at the last resort.

In my humble opinion, we are simply doing this because the technology enables us to do so. Or at least it will, in a few years.

(To work perfectly and seamlessly, we will need GPS systems in all vehicles,  – not phones, – and AVI transponders connected to ones credit card. Then I could touch my gps and get a map with the garages available, touch the map, and make the reservation. Then when I went into the garage I would have to do nothing. My transponder would activate the gate, I would be charged automatically, and I could enter and leave without seeing a living person or dealing with a ticket or a POF machine. My guess is that we are 10 years out on this.)

As I told my young scholar from the Rockies, for me to sit down and make a reservation on the ‘net for a parking space there has to be something in it for me. It has to be closer than I could find on my own, it has to be cheaper, or the parking attendant has to be nicer. Something>>>

Today when I pick up my rental car in an unknown city, I most likely have a map or directions to my destination. When I get there, I park in the place with the "Parking" sign outside, and go about my business. Now, what would happen if I had a reservation. I would pick a spot close to my destination and reserve the space.

What if the company that deals with the reservation only offers Central and Standard location, but I happen to be in San Diego, where 90% of the locations are run by Ace Parking. I park in my Central space two blocks from my destination, then walk by five Ace parking locations to get to my meeting. Probably the next time I won’t use the reservation service.

So first, I have to have ALL the parking locations on my reservation service.

I will pay a bit more, since not only will I pay the going rate for parking, but will pay a service charge for the reservation. 

Oh, by the way, do you know when I will think of parking reservations? When I reserve the car — there will be a little box on the Hertz or Budget reservation page that says "Do you want to reserve parking"  I say yes and my reservation is done by my car rental company, or Expedia, or Yahoo. 

At that point my Collegiate friend got the idea.  Start the business and sell it to Microsoft. The Perfect Parking Business Model.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. I agree with you! Very seldom do I go to park somewhere and it is full. And if it is full I would just move on to the next closest location.
    I will remember getting shut out of a location and will not go back there as my first choice next time (“If you do not learn from history you are doomed to repeat it” syndrome).
    In todays busy schedule who has time to look online to reserve a parking spot. I for one don’t!
    This is just another example of an available technology and people tying to take avantage of it.
    The technology is driving the market instead of the market driving the technology.

  2. If the authorities want this parking system to work all the people should have automobile GPS systems installed in their cars.This is the only way the system to work properly.

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