Getting Fans in Seats Starts with Helping Them Park
Arenas and venues are looking for ways to help audiences see beyond the ticket price to the value of being there. And being there starts with finding a place to park.
You can’t control the weather or traffic conditions, but as attendees arrive geared up for the event, the first thing you can control is their parking experience. This article covers best practices for ensuring your parking team is:
• Elevating the event experience
• Holding down operational costs
• Providing safe and smart parking solutions
Train Parking Staff as Event Ambassadors
No matter how well-prepared your event attendees may be, they will always have questions, there will always be uncertainty, and parking staff will often be the first point of contact. With ready answers to attendees’ needs, well-trained staff can turn parking from a headache to a valued service that starts the on-site experience off right.
Prioritize Exception Management
Great parking isn’t just a puzzle of cars and spaces. It’s an ever-changing Rubik’s cube ruled by that most unpredictable of variables: the people in cars. To keep things moving safely and enjoyably, parking teams need to plan for exception management, ready to respond to:
• Car fires
• Medical emergencies
• Road closures
• Security issues
Coordination is key to exception management. Planning for what you can expect from the unexpected ensures that such events don’t stop audiences from enjoying your main event. Tailgating and other unique needs require special planning that help meet audience expectations while mitigating facility issues. Designated areas can help control clean-up, and details need to be worked out ahead of time, such as compliance with fire codes for disposal of tailgaters’ charcoal.
Well-trained teams need to be responsive to changing security plans for each event.
No matter what the exception is, well thought-out communication plans, clear options, and solutions will ensure efficient flow and revenue collection. That leads to our next best practice:
Parking Experts Coordinate Much More than Parking
Parking is about flow, and that starts with traffic conditions just outside your facility. You can’t control those conditions, but experienced parking management teams won’t use that as an excuse. Best practices include:
• Hiring off-duty police officers or qualified, well-trained staff to help direct traffic
• Coordinating with local officials
• Placing clear and helpful signage
Large, dynamic, event-branded signage updates drivers on current conditions. Signage placed at key locations on- and off-site directs flow so attendees aren’t late and confused – or better, arrive early and enthused. Good signage requires knowledge of traffic patterns around your facility, and the impact of other events in the area. Planning should include community calendars and historical data on traffic patterns for similar events.
Parking experts also create value by coordinating employee parking. To open up high-value spaces on-site and introduce cost savings, a shuttle service can transport employees from off-site parking to your venue. A parking management team that runs its own shuttles can coordinate the whole endeavor while ensuring that driver vetting and vehicle safety training meet stringent standards.
In the case of events that use parking spaces from off-site partners, or need to bridge transportation for ticket-buyers using public transit, shuttle service extends the experience of your event by reaching out to meet attendees and streamlining their journey toward your amenities.
Make Sure Technology is There for Every Customer
There are plenty of parking technologies ready to speed the flow of transactions. The key is integrating technologies that facilitate attendees no matter how they choose to plan or pay. Options to pre-pay for parking when buying an event ticket need to work alongside speedy methods for point-of-sale transactions.
Whether using technology to offer pre-paid parking or facilitate credit card sales, gate flow should be counted in a handful of seconds. In some cases, using both automated systems and event personnel can improve flow and reduce costs.
Marking technology is changing every day, and parking management needs to stay keyed into the most cost-efficient and useful options. Consumer-facing apps and parking aggregators continue to add features. With some apps, your attendees can be guided from home to find the nearest parking place, hours, rates, and entrance points—which minimizes frustrations so attendees arrive ready to have a good time.
A parking management company that embraces innovative solutions, including the power of parking apps, will be able to leverage this technology for your benefit and can advise event partners on integrating technology.
Be a Security Force Multiplier
Being a first point of contact puts parking on the “front line” of security concerns. Parking teams need to be trained in situational awareness at all times and able to communicate with security teams. Best practices in security may be proprietary or unique to the event space, but a fully vetted labor pool should be prepared to fit into those practices and augment them. Camera systems, license plate tracking and other tools of parking management provide information and data that should be carefully monitored and shared with security per venue protocol. Well-trained teams need to be responsive to changing security plans for each event.
Provide a Total Solution
Last, but not least, consider the holistic needs of your parking facility. An integrated service provider can advise on cost savings beyond parking operations, including custodial and maintenance, as well as facility improvements. Examples include electric vehicle charging ports to attract the growing demographic of EV drivers, or infrastructure upgrades that can lower utility spending and meet criteria for highly visible sustainability initiatives and certifications.
A parking service provider should approach your events as a proactive partner that foresees problems, delivers best practices, and helps ensure that crowds arrive and leave with enthusiasm.
Brian Bush is a vice president overseeing parking and transportation solutions at ABM. Thomas Calvird is an assistant branch manager at ABM. Mark Nordin is a branch manager at ABM. Thomas and Mark can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.