Parking industry technology has come a long way. Automation is making parking lot attendants become a thing of the past, saving operators overhead and streamlining the process for customers. But beyond the obvious factor of having to pay fewer employees, there are lots of ways technology is increasing revenue for parking lot operators who know how to leverage it, all while improving the customer experience.
Here, we’ll break down what sorts of smart parking technology is available, and how to make the most of these smart parking innovations for your facility.
Types of Smart Parking Technology
Mobile parking technology and parking apps are some of the biggest trends in smart parking technology today. These come with a number of possible features that help automate the entire process, and in addition to other benefits, remove the need for human hands to handle ticketing and payments.
Seamless Spot Booking
Seamless spot booking is a feature that allows customers to pre-book a vacant parking spot ahead of time, before arriving at your facility. They can then use a code sent to them via email, SMS, or a mobile app that lets them scan their phones and then enter the lot to park. This removes the need for on-site payment systems and automates the process from booking to exit.
Dynamic pricing systems allow for automated price increases during high-volume parking periods, such as rush hour or during local events. Not only does this increase revenue by responding dynamically to changes in demand, but empowers you to give customers more affordable parking options when overall volume is lower.
Improved User Experience
There are myriad ways that smart parking technology improves the user experience for your customers. Features like pre-booking and streamlined payment systems, vacancy checks, and on-site credit card processing make the reservation, parking, and payment process easier than ever for customers.
Subscription & Pay-Per-Use
New parking facility technologies give operators an easy way to offer their customers various payment models, including subscription and pay-per-use. A pay-per-use model is typical in most parking situations. It is exactly what it sounds like: a customer pays once, and gets to park for a certain period of time. If they leave and then return, they have to pay again.
A subscription model, on the other hand, allows customers to pay a flat fee on a certain schedule – usually monthly – and then they can park as often as they like. Operators can use smart technology to offer both models for different customers, if it is a good fit for their demographic.
For example, it your customers include numerous commuters who will need to use your lot frequently, but you get a lot of one-time users as well, you can sell parking subscriptions to customers who need it and charge a per-use fee for others. As the operator, it’s all up to you, and it’s easier than ever to offer more than just one model for collecting payments.
Commissions on Mobile Payments
In addition to new payment models for you to offer customers, parking lot operators can take advantage of different payment models that increase your revenue in innovative new ways. One such way is charging a small commission to customers who are using mobile payments.
By tacking on a small fee for the convenience of paying with a mobile phone, more revenue can be collected on each mobile payment that you process. This fee will be minor for the customer, but will add up greatly over time for you. Commissions on mobile payments increase profit margins by helping to offset the costs of maintaining a mobile payment network for your customers.
Smart parking technology allows operators to reward their frequent customers with discounts and special deals. By automating the process, this can be “hands off,” requiring little to no input from operators once the reward system is set up.
For example, customers can sign up for an automated system to keep track of how often they use your facility. The system can be programmed to offer rewards of all kinds. Customers might get a free parking pass after five parking sessions, or a free week of parking after a one-year subscription period lapses. Any number of incentives can be implemented without the need for additional monitoring on your part.
How Smart Parking Technologies Improve Productivity
Smart parking technologies promise to improve your productivity and efficiency in a wide number of ways. Automation for the customer is only part of the equation. In the next section, we’ll explore some of the other factors.
Smart Data Analytics
The revolution in parking lot data analytics in recent years has been staggering. Thanks to technological innovation, parking lot operators can have total, real-time insights into every aspect of their operations. From volume and vacancies to new payments and subscribers, operators can dial down into every detail for deep insights into their business, even viewing trends over time for various data points.
This allows you to make adjustments and investments as needed, putting your time and money into the most productive areas. Over the life of your business, modern analytics tools can deliver monumental money and time-saving opportunities.
Less Need for On-Site Parking Attendants
As mentioned in earlier sections, one of the most obvious benefits of smart parking innovation is the drastically reduced need for on-site employees to operate the lot. Since aspects like entry, exit, reservations, and even payment can all be automated, you’ll no longer need to pay employees to work at your facility to manage daily operations.
In addition to payroll savings, this also reduces loss. Unfortunately, employees make mistakes or can decide to become dishonest. Misplaced, miscounted, and stolen revenues are a guarantee, to some extent, when you are forced to hire human beings to operate your business.
Automated systems and software won’t be subject to the same quirks and mistakes as their human counterparts. They can also move more efficiently, making instant calculations and eliminating delays.
Smart technology can optimize the parking process for customers, increasing revenue for you. For example, mobile apps downloaded by the customer can be used to display vacant parking spots. This reduces traffic congestion in the lot by making it clear exactly where customers can park, sending them directly to a vacant spot of their choice.
In addition to making your lot more efficient and consumer-friendly, eliminating the need for customers to wander around looking for a spot reduces the likelihood of collisions, road rage, and other legally cumbersome incidents.
Generate New Revenue Streams
Technology gives operators the opportunity to generate new revenue streams from their parking businesses. One opportunity comes from “premium” packages for customers. These could allow customers access to special tools, such as a mobile app, to give them fuller visibility into real-time information like current parking spot vacancies for an additional fee.
As mentioned in a previous section, commissions collected on mobile payments are another potentially valuable new revenue stream offered by smart technology. But in addition to new revenue streams for you, your lot can generate revenue for the local municipality as well. While this isn’t always a direct source of revenue for you, this could increase the overall value of your business drastically.
With the advent of smart parking technology, managing a parking facility isn’t like it used to be—and that’s a good thing. Technology improvements are providing an enormous opportunity for operators to automate their business, continually improve their operation, and collect more revenue than ever.
But things have improved for parking facility customers as well. Parking lot patrons can enjoy a smoother, more informed, and more pleasant experience when they patronize a facility that takes advantage of the latest innovations. As technology keeps improving, it will continue to be a win-win for parkers and operators alike.