How The $10 Billion Parking & Mobility Industry Is Pivoting

March 31, 2021

With remote working conditions, retail and hospitality businesses teetering to stay afloat, and stay-at-home orders still prevailing; the parking industry has been impacted like never before. COVID-19 has altered public life in cities, universities, municipalities, and even at home. The billion-dollar question that everyone is asking: ‘When will life return to normal?”

The fact is, life might never truly be the same even as the pandemic starts to slowly fade away. Regardless of how fast the vaccine may have arrived or how fast businesses reopen, the pandemic has created lasting effects on the way people move, commute, work, and… park.

Years will pass until the parking industry recovers from the hit of COVID-19. Yet, parking remains one of those industries with hidden potential. Nobody really talks about it, but it’s a $10.6-billion industry with an ocean of opportunities.

Where Did the Demand for Parking Go?

When COVID-19 first hit, the demand for parking flattened almost overnight. Analysts estimate that more than 90% of the demand for parking has disappeared since the pandemic started. Analysts also estimate that the demand hasn’t shown a lot of progress, mostly due to companies slowly adopting permanent work from home options.

As a result, parking companies have started to test out other ways to create revenue from their empty space. In restaurants, parking companies have started to provide kerbside-pickup spots for people to pick-up their orders. In cities, parking companies are exploring using vacant parking lots to enable food trucks and other come-and-go food companies to combat a stagnant demand.

For airports and universities, on the other hand, testing ideas as to how to use unused parking spaces poses a bigger challenge. With students learning from home, it’s estimated that not even 8% of universities’ parking spaces are being utilized. Airports face a similar challenge. With the air travel industry being heavily impacted by the pandemic, parking-related revenues have also taken a nosedive.

COVID-19 has shifted the way people travel, and it’s important to understand how.

COVID-19 has made it normal to see empty and unused parking lots.

Mobility Trends Gaining Traction Since COVID-19

The pandemic accelerated certain trends that had already been growing before COVID-19 even appeared. For instance, people’s adoption of electric vehicles. With oil prices plummeting, it’s clear that the future of transportation is electric.

The pandemic has also increased the demand for single-occupancy forms of transportation. To prevent being infected by the virus, people are no longer so open to taking often crowded public forms of transportation. Single-occupancy models are accelerating the move towards micro-mobility. These forms of transportation enable safer ways of traveling from point A to B without worrying about catching the virus along the way.

Within the parking industry, contactless payment has gained huge traction. The pandemic has shifted people’s attention as to not only where to park, but also how to pay for it. For sanitary reasons, people today would much rather park a few blocks further, than taking valet parking, for instance. The more frictionless and contactless the experience for drivers, the better.

Yet, The Reality is… COVID-19 Exposed the Parking Industry’s Inefficiencies

Whilst it’s true that the parking industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and that it will take time for demand to recover traction, COVID-19 truly exposed the inefficiencies of the parking industry.

Even in ‘normal times,’ the parking industry was plagued by inefficiencies. In many cases, underutilized parking spaces have hindered organizations’ abilities to make better use of their land.  Countless vacant parking spaces around cities, campuses, and other organizations have long predated the pandemic.

At the same time, whilst parking information might be physically present in parking lots,  historically drivers haven’t had access to parking information before planning their journey to their destination. The market lacks a user-side of information that motorists might find valuable, such as the discovery of handicapped parking spaces, permit availability, and the hourly cost of parking at a specific site.

Businesses and cities also tend to pay the price for inefficient parking infrastructure. Frequent vacant parking spots usually mean that businesses will pass on that ‘cost’ to their consumers. Businesses should also optimize their loading and unloading zones to prevent commercial trucks from blocking their consumers’ journey.

Currently, the parking industry is notoriously low-tech. Parking signage, for instance, tends to be a problem for drivers. The reality is, parking signs are often hard to understand. When drivers encounter complex parking signage, it’s very uncommon for drivers to access help. A Google search might be the best option, but how do you tell Google what signage you are visualizing? Drivers need a user-side of parking maps to better understand their options.

Given how low-tech the parking industry is, it's common to see parking congestions like the one displayed above.

Improving the Parking Experience

The parking industry’s inefficiencies existed way before COVID-19. It might not look like it’s a good time to start investing in optimizing parking space, but the reality is different. Now is the best time to get started, so that when things do ‘return to normal’ (or somewhat), your city/organization/campus can provide your community with a customer-centered experienced end-to-end.

Parking data insights can create immense value for organizations’ future planning and infrastructure in the following ways:

  • Ease traffic congestions, improving traffic flow and safety
  • Future-proof cities towards an innovative smart city model
  • Improve safety by reducing driver distraction when locating parking options
  • Making it easy for drivers to interpret complex parking signs
  • Locate and utilize kerbs efficiently
  • Facilitate sustainable mobility

Without these insights, many organizations/universities/cities are not seeing the ‘whole picture’ in terms of parking data and mobility patterns and parking demands of drivers.

Modii (formerly Spot Parking) helps to solve all of these parking inefficiencies. Our innovative and data first approach to parking solutions assist with all of the following:

  • Digitizing the parking experience
  • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting parking data to find parking patterns
  • Creating a parking map for drivers to understand their parking options. Take a look at an example of how it has been done in the city of Parramatta.
  • Developing a customer-side tech for drivers to explore all their parking options (no app download required).
  • Making parking signage easy-to-understand
  • Optimizing the use of parking lots to prevent costly frequent vacant spots

Contact us to request a demo or see how our solutions might fit your organization’s needs!

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