There’s a revolution happening in the parking industry. Technology is changing the way we park, creating an opportunity for operators and landlords alike to increase asset value, drive higher returns and provide a better service to clients, tenants and customers.

Harry Lal

Harry Lal, head of commercial property at JustPark

A revenue opportunity that is far from being realised

Currently, parking’s potential is far from being fully realised. Commercial real estate landlords have yet to maximise the value of the car park asset class. But that’s all about to change.

This is good news for drivers. Motorists are tired of a parking infrastructure that is increasingly outdated. Hunting for a parking space is a waste of time. Searching for pound coins becomes increasingly frustrating in a cashless world. You can understand why consumers don’t feel good about parking.

But there’s no reason it should still be like this.

Drivers are ready for parking to move into the 21st century. After all, we’re all already using technology to buy anything and everything we want at the touch of a button.

Drivers are ready for 21st-century parking

Of all the tech advances in the parking industry, the most significant is cashless payment. It makes everything else possible. Digital payment solutions let drivers pay for their parking through an app on their mobile. Everything is cashless, which means parking can be pre-booked, paid for in advance or paid in arrears.

Where automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are in place, drivers don’t have to think about the payment process until afterwards. Not only is that easier, but it means they only pay for the time parked, rather than guessing how much time they’ll need.

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Once the customer has a cashless parking app, they can benefit from a range of driver-focused innovations designed to make their lives easier. A reminder on their phone 15 minutes before their parking session is due to expire means they can stroll back to the car in time. Alternatively, they have the option to extend their parking window remotely through the app if they’re still busy.

Either way, the app puts an end to that mad dash back to the car in a panic, hoping there isn’t a traffic warden hovering.

How can technology help landlords maximise returns from their car park?

Cashless parking makes driving and parking an attractive option for the motorist. But it also opens up opportunities for car park owners to increase incomes. JustPark has created a unique dynamic pricing service using machine-learning algorithms to understand customer demand – and alter the tariff accordingly. Instead of the traditional static tariffs that most parking operators implement, the dynamic pricing engine gives you the flexibility to move prices quickly. Lowering prices off-peak attracts motorists to park; increasing prices when it’s busy drives up revenue. The system is proven to increase yield by 20% on average.

If the adoption rate of these services is still relatively low it’s because many landlords don’t realise that these options are not only available but easy to implement at a low cost. It’s a huge opportunity and it’s there for the taking.

With the JustPark app, we are able to very accurately forecast what landlords can expect to generate in revenue. Thanks to our volume of users – some 2.5 million drivers – we can capture data on driver behaviour and demand in any given area. We know how many searches are being made in a location every day, week or month.

And from the data, we can predict consumer behaviour. For example, if we can understand whether they are a shopper or a commuter, we’ll understand their car park usage. We can influence parking behaviour too, promoting any car park to that 2.5 million driver base.

”Cashless parking makes driving and parking an attractive option for the motorist. But it also opens up opportunities for car park owners to increase incomes”

This means we know how many times we can fill a parking space during a day. It’s how we optimise revenue for the client. We can predict availability of space, manage occupancy levels and forecast the revenue the operator can expect. Incidentally, this level of insight allows car park developers to understand demand, helping them to decide how big a prospective site should be and what kind of returns they can reasonably expect.

Motorists are looking to park. Making it easy for them is a win-win

Making it easier for drivers to choose their car park will inevitably drive up occupancy. That’s why JustPark worked with Westminster council to use sensor data on the parking spaces to not only identify exactly where spaces are available but to predict future availability based on past usage. Now, our predictive availability tool tells a driver in advance their likelihood of being able to park.

Our next advance – in the pipeline at the moment – is to incorporate the GPS and location services that most people have enabled on their smartphones. It will allow us to predict to within a few minutes when a space will become available.

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If you can see a motorist is walking back to their car, you can reasonably predict their car park session is coming to an end.

These innovations may feel high-tech and even futuristic, but they have the potential to revolutionise the way people park. It won’t be long before all drivers pre-book their space as a matter of course, whether five minutes or five days in advance. And they’ll do it at the touch of a button on an app. Because when something genuinely makes life better, it doesn’t take long for people to adopt new habits.

Drivers are getting used to cashless parking. It’s an opportunity for the market to respond

The financial benefits are significant. So much so that many local authorities are leading the way in implementing the technology required to capitalise on the opportunity. Cashless parking doesn’t just generate increased revenue; it saves local authorities a significant sum in administration. Suddenly the way they manage their car parks is moving up the priority list. And as councils are the biggest owners of car parks in the country, the consumer will become more and more accustomed to digital payments.

All of which makes the opportunity even more tempting for the commercial real estate industry. Up until now, landlords and asset managers may simply have seen the car park as part and parcel of the property lease. JustPark wants to change that. Our mission is to provide an easy-to-use, efficient parking service to every driver in the UK. We want to create space for drivers to park in. And we want to create revenue opportunities for space owners. In short, we want to make landlords and car park operators money.

About JustPark

JustPark’s award-winning service is trusted by more than 2.5 million drivers with the highest rated consumer parking app in the UK. Their cashless service streamlines parking for the motorist and cuts administration costs for car park owners. The company provides car park technology to over 300 hotels including Marriott and Hilton as well as to businesses in the property sector including Savills and JLL.

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