The internet is the single most important technology growth area in the parking industry; Hughes explained that the power it brings will continue to grow and develop. “We all now expect to be able to buy the products and services we need online, and we also expect to be able to manage those purchases online. This seamless transaction is vital – it gives the customer the smoothest possible interaction with the parking product, and it dramatically reduces the cost of providing that service,” she said.
But it’s about more than just selling parking online. Harnessing the power of the internet gives operators the ability to drive revenues by marketing to customers before they travel, before they arrive and after they’ve left. “They can now up-sell and cross-sell at all stages of the purchase process – growing customer value and extending the power of internet sales to other products and services – whether parking related or not. This level of service integration would have been unachievable, or at least unaffordable, before the internet,” said Hughes.
After the customer has made their booking, technology delivers other ways of making the purchase process smoother. Travellers are accustomed to putting their credit card into the barrier and being recognised. “This is very much yesterday’s technology, and something that we’ll see less and less over the next few years as PCI/DSS regulations begin to bite,” said Hughes. “Card recognition will be replaced by other technologies – from ANPR, which in some cases can now not only read your number plate but also recognise your car make and model, through PIN recognition, to mobile phone-based recognition technologies like SMS barcoding and Near Field Communications (NFC) – the most advanced of the phone-based technologies.”
Increasing parking revenues
Hughes put it simply; to increase revenues you can do one of two things – sell more or spend less. Chauntry helps airports do both by providing them with a platform designed to provide dramatically enhanced functionality in product and pricing, sales and marketing, and service and retention. “Chauntry customers can now define multiple overlapping products for any car park – each with different properties, and each targeted at a different type of customer. For example – non-cancel, non-amend discounted offers for the prudent leisure traveller, or fully-flexible premium offers for the time-poor business person,” said Hughes.
The Chauntry Parkspace reservation system is used to book spaces at virtually all airport car parks in the UK, and a growing number in Ireland and mainland Europe, including BAA’s seven UK airports, Dublin airport and Copenhagen, where it is implemented for LPKAS – the on-airport car park operator.
Yield Management is a hot topic in the parking industry, and yield management system providers are beginning to bring skills and experience from other industries – typically from flight or hotel booking – to the parking sector. Hughes said: “We’ve seen valuable input from yield management providers, and I think the whole industry has benefited from the increased focus on the historical and forward data that effective yield management requires.”