The Inevitable Mobile Transition in the Parking Industry

Back in the 1950-60’s, do you think that Ace Parking or Vinci Park’s founders expected that drivers would be able to book a parking space and pay electronically on a mobile?

Of course not! But today the 3rd generation of CEO’s is fully working towards this novel idea because parking mobility is THE main battle field in the parking industry.

They are facing “disrupters” or better known as “start-ups”!

Start-ups raise millions of dollars and spend them in mobile applications, business development, and marketing. They allow people to check parking space availability, compare rates, book and pay for parking in the cities. They establish direct relationship with drivers and are building their own parking brands.

And some (maybe most?) parking operators are not looking at them with a friendly eye. Kevin J. Leary, president of VPNE, stated in the Boston Globe about Luxe Valet:

“They were trying to create a business out of our garages. They’re disruptors. Eventually, they’ll be parking operators.”

Parking Mobile

So the old school is forced to learn from the new school and must follow the current trend “parking + mobile = $”!

While most of the start-ups could learn just as much from the old parking operators, such as “customer service” for example, the parking mobile APPS are quite innovative in term of parking functions they offer today.

Shared parking Apps

Firstly, we have the shared parking Apps, like the French start-up “ZenPark” who raised 6.1 million Euros last April. Secondly, the Chinese team at “Air Parking” (Wechat account based) is currently running its operation in 50 residential buildings in South China. There is also the brilliant UK based company “JustPark”, backed originally by BMW I Ventures, which raised an extra 3.5 million Pounds on Crowdcube from 2702 individual investors last year (impressive!). All those shared parking APPs have shown a great capacity to monetize unexploited private parking resources and offer friendly alternatives to the traditional on & off street parking operators.

Vinci Park, recently rebranded “Indigo”, has probably learned one or two tricks from those innovative, shared parking start-ups. Indigo is indeed positioning itself as a competitor in this parking rivalry. They offer free hardware installation after auditing your precious parking assets. Then when there are available parking spots at a specific time in your residential or office buildings, Indigo indicates that they are available for rent on its parking mobile APP.

Valet Parking Apps

The 2nd kind of mobile parking App, which is quite disruptive, is the Valet App. It essentially helps you to park your car and then brings it back to you at your chosen location and time in the city. You don’t need to stress about finding a place or parking at all. It is all done for you by a valet. Brilliant service for busy people. But the Valet App industry has already seen a lot of start-ups left behind because of all the working permits and legal issues they were faced with. Not everybody excels like Uber in navigating through the regulatory legal nets!

What can Parking Operators learn from this business model? Well, as per the shared parking, develop a similar service for their clients and “Valet them for extra bucks”! At the same time, ensure that you bring all the cars in the city to your car parks and not the ones of your competitors. The Valet companies will, of course, get to choose where they park the driver’s cars in order to maximize their margins.

Mobile Payment Parking Apps

We must also recognize the leaders in the mobile parking payment industry, which are the pioneers and forerunners for “on street” parking payments. The most famous one is PayByPhone, a Canadian-French company started in 2001. They operate today in more than 350 cities around the world. Their mobile payment solution is just incredible, making it easy to understand why it is used by millions daily. One of its American competitors however, ParkMobile, which is currently operating in 35 US cities, is also innovative. They are notably partnering with Ford and Volvo car manufacturers to offer a connected car experience on top of just the mobile app itself. Stay tuned on this new tech shift…

Love it or they hate it, parking operators must face the reality of the market; mobility is king in today’s business.

And for a simple reasons: it is fast, secured and stress free!

Keith Jones, owner and managing partner at Ace Parking, shared the same vision in a recent interview with Parking Exec:

“Changes in our everyday culture will continue to affect and dictate changes in the parking industry. Mobile based GPS, payment, and access will continue to broaden the way we park. Gates and tickets will slowly become a thing of the past.”

To quickly check online parking spots availability, book, park and go…that’s all we want as drivers. We have no time to turn endlessly around the city or inside a car park to just find a d### space to leave our car! We need guidance, easy access in the car park and a fast payment method that doesn’t require us to queue in front of an antiquated coin/credit card machine.

Is it too much to ask when an hour of parking costs more than an hour’s wages?

There is plenty of work ahead for parking operators and system integrators in transitioning to the “parking mobile” age, but the result in the cities of the future will be amazing, according to Laurent Derache, technical director @ Silex Lab:

“The stress and time waste for drivers will be something cured. Accessing any parking lot from mobile registration will increase car entrance and exit flows while decreasing management costs by removing the ticket pains (fraud, unreadable ticket, ticket lost and so on).”

L’iPark is a turnkey solution for parking APPs and operators to automate the access and guidance of drivers in car parks while securing people’s assets and increasing revenue, unlike any other technology.

L’iPark empowers car parks with mobility and supports their transition into the “connected parking” era.

Smart Parking