Bridging Physical and Digital Parking

Bridging Physical and Digital Parking

July 15th, 2019 - Payments, ATMs and Unattended

By Kristine Green, Marketing Manager, ADVAM

The parking business has come a long way – from the first multi-storey car park built for the LaSalle Hotel in 1918 in Chicago to the first working parking meter built in 1920’s/1930’s to regulate parking time in Oklahoma City.

Fast-forward almost nine decades later, parking is still parking but now there are more aspects to it. It is no longer only a physical experience but is now combined with the digital experience as well. What makes up the physical experience? This involves entering the car park, finding a parking space and paying at the station. What involves the digital experience? This involves creating an account, pre-booking a space, paying and managing your account online. How do you ensure that between these two aspects is a seamless experience for your customers? 

The Challenges of the Parking Business Today

Back in the day, there was no way of telling who parked in the car park, how many times that person parked and if they would park again. With the rise of digital platforms, you can now get this data and know your customers better.

While this is now possible, the challenge remains for many parking businesses. It is one thing to gather data, but it is another to turn that data into customer insights that can be utilized by the business.

Another key challenge that parking businesses face today is ensuring that the overall parking experience is seamless. It is imperative that the transition from the digital experience to the actual physical act of parking be a hassle-free end-to-end process; from booking a parking space online through to being identified at the entrance to making the payment at exit.

Converting Transactional Purchases to Relational Purchases

Digital parking platforms are myriad and include: parking apps that can assist users to find a car park and pay for their parking; account-based ticketless platforms that allow users to create and manage their own account with their parking provider of choice and also automatically takes the payment from their account seamlessly; and parking reservation platforms that allow users to reserve, pay and manage their parking online.

By implementing a digital parking platform in your parking business, you can gather data about your customers and use the data to tailor your offerings. For example, with account-based ticketless parking platforms, you acquire data on customer parking frequency. You can also integrate the system with a rewards programs, using customer insights to promote loyalty incentives.

Another example is using pre-booking platforms. These platforms provide a digital touchpoint before the physical parking experience, allowing you to offer options to enhance the customer interaction. For example, you can offera car wash service or give your customer an incentive to upgrade to valet parking. The take up on these offers are tracked and recorded in these platforms. This means that you can build a profile of what is important to your customers as individuals and use the platform to engage with them to further build on your relationship and in turn improve their loyalty. Consequently, this leads to more revenue.

Let’s get Digital and Physical

How do these digital parking platforms work? What is the bridge between these platforms and the car park? Digital parking platforms are heavily integrated with Parking Access Revenue Control System (PARCS). They employ an identifier such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) or licence plate recognition (LPR) or loyalty cards. These identifiers link the digital accounts of the customers and provide garage access while also providing a history length of stay.

It is important that a parking business selects a digital parking platform that integrates well with the whole car park ecosystem ensuring a seamless digital and physical experience.

Integrated Parking Experience: The Value for Your Customers and Your Business

An integrated parking experience is more than a digital parking process. Automating and integrating everything from booking to payment, to entry and exit means that your customer experiences a simplified process. This integrated process leaves the customer feeling satisfied, valued, with a sense of belonging and ultimately loyalty to that company.

To have an integrated parking experience meansyour parking business must implement a digital platform. Since data collection is a key to customization, only then can you influence loyalty through offering tailored services that ultimately leads to higher revenues.

Now that parking involves both a physical and digital experience, bridging the gap between the two is imperative. After all, parking now is a perfect case study of how to increase revenue by improving the holistic customer experience. Parking is a big data enterprise and beginning with the right digital platform ensures that your business won’t be left behind.

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