The Leader Magazine

JUN 2018

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Page 44 of 51

A na's story should be familiar to anyone who's dealt with trying to find parking options in a busy area. Recent research indicates that Americans spend an average of 17 hours every year looking for a space. Inefficient or hard-to-find parking not only costs us in lost productivity, it also leads to increased congestion, pollution, and driver frustration. The tech world has responded with a solution: apps. With the proliferation of smartphones and ever-more sophisticated GPS technology, apps are making parking less painful. For commuters, these apps save time and make parking more convenient. For parking-facility operators, apps are a tool to support marketing efforts, drive customer loyalty, and boost ROI. Reduce the time it takes to find a space Because it can be so difficult to find parking, it's not surprising that parking aggregators have emerged as the most common type of parking app. They provide information on which parking facilities are nearby, whether they have spaces available, rates, and contact information. In the scenario above, Ana could have used a parking-aggregator app to locate a parking facility near her client's office, reserve a space, and even pay for it. Aggregators are also useful for customers who have specific needs. Traditionally, customers with disabilities have had to play a guessing game every time they go to a building they've never visited before. Will there be enough accessible spaces? Will there be room for side- entry wheelchairs? Aggregators eliminate the guessing game by providing information on which facilities have accessible parking. Some even include 360-degree images of accessible spaces so customers can visualize where they'll park before they get there. Apps also bridge the gap between business with EV charging stations and customers with electric vehicles. Businesses invest in EV charging stations to draw in new customers and support sustainability goals. But to see a return on that investment, they need to get the word out. Electric-vehicle owners are typically tech-savvy, so aggregator apps are an ideal way to reach them. For parking facility operators, aggregators don't just make it easy for customers to find them. They also promote the company's commitment to sustainability, accessibility and providing a pain-free experience. a pps enable ticketless transactions When people think of parking-payment technology, they often think of pay stations. While pay stations make parking convenient, they still require tickets, a major source of frustration for both customers and parking-facility operators. Tickets can be lost or stolen. Customers can misunderstand the rules about what to do with them. And, they add another line item to the budget. Parking apps that enable payment by phone eliminate the need for tickets. In the scenario at the beginning of this article, Ana could have used an app to prepay for her parking. She wouldn't spend any time at a pay station or gate kiosk. There'd be no potential for her to lose her ticket or forget to place it in her dash. And she'd have the peace of mind of knowing that she had properly paid for her parking and wouldn't be booted or incur a high fee. Tickets are also a source of frustration for parking validation. Apps that offer e-validation save time for everyone – from customers to receptionists and security personnel who typically have to handle the validation process. Customers can forget to get their parking validated or lose their ticket, resulting in frustration and higher costs for them. With automated validations, there are no tickets to keep up with, and no stamps or stickers to worry about, leaving more time for receptionists and security personnel to focus on their other duties. Parking can be a source of frustration for both customers and facility operators. But it can also be an opportunity for facility operators to show customers that they're invested in creating a pleasant experience. Apps are a way to solve critical pain points and to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Erik Eloe is regional director of business development for facility- solutions provider ABM Industries. the leader June 2018 45

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