I went to the movies the other day in Century City. Saw Blade Runner 2045. I’m ambivalent. But that’s not the point of this blog. When the movie was over, I checked my parking ticket and was surprised to see my license number printed on it. When I got home I read a front page story in the LA Times about the $1billion upgrade the center’s owner, Westfield, had done to the mall. Along with hotel grade furniture, many new restaurants, and special shopping hours for the tony set, the gist of the article was about parking.
If you want, you can valet your car at any one of five valet stations surrounding the mall. In addition, you can sign up for reserved parking (on line). If you do so, you will enter your license number and credit card (of course). When you arrive, the License Plate Recognition system will open the gate for you (no ticket needed) and direct you to an area where you will find reserved spaces with your name on a video screen above the space. The tariff is a measly $20 for four hours. When you leave you simply approach the gate, it will open automatically, and you are on your way. Credit Card charged automatically, of course.
If you are not into reserved parking (and a $20 charge) you can download the center’s parking app and enter your credit card and license number. You will then be able to enter and leave without benefit of a ticket. Your card will be charged normal parking rates on exit.
Of course if you are a luddite like me, you can simply pull a ticket, pay at a POF machine and the gate will open automatically upon exit. I took it one step further (there was a line at the POF) and drove directly to the exit gate, inserted my ticket and my credit card, and paid there.
The Westfield folks and their “Westfield Labs” division are looking for ways to make the shopping experience “softer” and “seamless.” They know they are competing with Amazon and want to get shoppers off their duffs and into their mall for a world class shopping and entertainment experience.
I say congrats to Westfield. Perhaps other parking owners could look at making the parking experience as smooth and exciting as that at Century City Shopping Center in Los Angeles. Why wait for Uber or Lyft when you can park like this?