As the COVID-19 has hit businesses across the globe, every industry is reeling for a change. From transportation to automobiles, the toll is undoubtedly heavy on many sectors. On the brighter side, we’re seeing businesses mobilizing to offer solutions and service immediate and essential needs.
Despite the disruption to travel and mobility as people practice social distancing, things will soon get back to normal, albeit with some changes. The sight of people wearing masks outside, practicing frequent handwashing, and rubbing sanitizer all over their hands will become common.
What does this mean for the parking industry during the coronavirus crisis? How will it adjust to these shifts and navigate a crisis of this magnitude?
Increased emphasis on Contactless Parking during Coronavirus crisis
While smart parking has been around for a while, many parking businesses still haven’t incorporated end-to-end technology in their facilities. This will change. Because of the global lockdowns and social distancing norms, consumers will still shy away from contact when things do eventually go back to normal.
When they enter a parking lot, they will necessarily expect a ‘contactless’ experience i.e., minimal or no human interaction at different touchpoints – entry, exit, payments, et al. Motorists will be wary of exchanging cash, pulling up a ticket or queuing up at a pay-station. Thus, parking facilities will need to digitize operations and establish mobile payment technology. We’ll see more contactless terminals than ever before accepting global payment modes.
Parking businesses will thus need to focus on adopting such contactless systems that are quicker, more efficient, and safer than traditional parking practices. Though smart parking, the underlying technology of ‘contactless’ parking has been around for a while, its adoption is still at an early stage globally. More so in developing nations. A lack of awareness and poor technological infrastructure are two major contributors. In a way, COVID-19 will also play out as an ‘equalizer’ here, making it necessary for parking players across the world to adopt smart parking technology that digitizes the entire facility, and eliminates contact at various touchpoints in a parking lot.
A new normal in parking
A ‘touchless’ parking experience is poised to become the new normal, for both on and off-street parking in a post-COVID world. In fact, much before the pandemic ensued, cities in the US and the UK were already setting plans to establish completely contactless parking in motion. Some now have fully contactless pay-and-display payment systems that accept debit and credit cards and smartphone payments.
Parking businesses that hadn’t yet embraced smart parking technology will be quick to do so now, and for good reason. A contactless parking experience means customers enter a facility without exchanging tickets with a staff member, don’t wait in long queues for payment, and simply use a contactless bank card or a smartphone at the payment terminal. In such a fully automated system, patrons neither come in close contact with parking staff nor with each other as they move through different touchpoints in a facility quickly. This also benefits parking operators who can remotely monitor and analyze parking and payment data without having to physically step into a facility.
“Parking and mobility have clearly taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic but things will eventually go back to normal. However, the definition of ‘normal’ in almost every sphere is going to change. When people step out of their homes in the future and look for a place to park, they will want minimal human contact in a parking lot. Facilities that ensure proper and regular sanitization and smart parking ‘contactless’ tech will naturally get the most business.”
– Kevin Woznicki, Principal at ParkTrans Solutions
“The coronavirus pandemic will certainly force the parking industry to digitize their operations to minimize contact amongst staff and customers. Touchless Parking Technology is the way forward, whenever we manage to bounce back from this crisis.”
– Chirag Jain, CEO & Founder at Get My Parking
Recovering from the crisis
Rebuilding business volume once the crisis passes will likely remain the top question in the minds of business owners. Recovery will also depend on how attitudes toward travel and mobility change. In any case, people will eventually start going to work and will require the same parking services as before the crisis.
More importantly, businesses will need to think hard about how to increase the parking industry during the coronavirus crisis. In the event of future lockdowns and travel restrictions, the industry must ponder on how to minimize impact while contributing to the community.