There has been an explosion in the popularity of parking reservation apps over the last 10 years. Initially reservation apps gained traction at places like airports. Now, they are commonplace across the full parking spectrum, employee, on-street, off-street etc.

However, the parking industry is changing and rapidly. In spite of what some of the dinosaurs in the parking industry think the world is going to need less parking in the future. What role do parking reservation apps have in this future?

Here’s three predictions from the world’s of office parking, local government parking and private car parks.

Parking reservation data will become key for offices

So everyone knows we will never again work from offices in the way we did pre-COVID. Don’t get me wrong, the office will still play a key role in most people’s work week but it will be different.

All the research is pointing towards blended working being key. This will see employees working from the office a few days a week and from home for the remainder.

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This sounds ideal for many people but will raise challenges for employers. Obviously on the face of it, many employers should be licking their lips at the thought of reduced real estate bills. Less employees mean less office space required and ultimately less parking needed.

All this change doesn’t come without challenges though. Many employers don’t know where to start when it comes to figuring out how much space they actually need.

This is where parking reservation apps are going to become key. By implementing parking software, employers will be able to generate the data & insights needed to inform decisions.

Simply put companies need the software to work out how much parking they need.

Cities will embrace competition to improve service

Local governments were early adopters in the world of parking apps. As some of the world’s largest parking providers, large urban councils were quick to role out apps as an alternative to pay and display machines.

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Their main objective was reducing their capital outlay on the pay and display machines which are very expensive to install and maintain.

Often times, innovation stopped with the app roll-out. Many cities are happy with one app to rule them app. This might sound great. In practice it can be a nightmare for consumers.

Without competition, an app provider has very little incentive to improve. Many app companies are sitting on lucrative contracts which haven’t been put out to tender for years. The knock-on result of this is very primitive technological experience which are nowhere near the level of other convience offerings like Uber, Deliveroo etc.

Couple this with the fragmented market which very rarely sees on-street and off-street options offered on the same app. It is clear to see why some people tend to stay away from parking apps.

The good news is that change is on the winds. Local governments are starting to realize sometimes more is better. Instead of having long-term contracts with one app provider, authorities can now use an Open API to work with many.

In essence, this means that if an app provider fulfils certain criteria that they can offer all parking through their app. This is already successfully being rolled out in cities like Amsterdam and massively boosts adoption.

An added bonus is specialist users like courier services can access the API and integrate with their softwares to make things more efficient for their staff.

Car park operators recognize different apps do different jobs

Car park operators can be slow to embrace innovation. Many car park companies still don’t leverage e-commerce to improve customer acquisition.

There is an attitude out there that people know where car parks are and there is no need for any fancy technology to improve the user experience.

Slowly but surely people are realizing that leveraging online booking systems can drive results for car parks. For example many regular car park users love to book ahead for peace of mind. While heavy users like to avail of loyalty offers.

Of the operators who have online offerings, there can be a hesitancy to deal with marketplaces like SpotHero & Parkpnp.

They are worried about giving companies too large a control over their businesses. While sharing revenue with 3rd parties doesn’t sit comfortably with some.

As we move forward, car park operators are going to realize that it’s not a case of one app to rule them all. In fact a car park should be engaging with multiple apps.

The best car park operators will embrace marketplaces for what they are. A great way to get eyeballs and new customers.

They will then have their own parking reservation systems for repeat customers. These will be heavily promoted on-site and encourage users to sign up to avail of best offers.

No longer will it be a case of “having an app” for a car park. Operators will have multiple partner apps as well as their own app to maximize revenue from a reducing market.

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