Defining Frictionless Parking
Frictionless parking has been the predominant trend in parking over the past five years. By combining different technologies to offer a completely hands-free experience, parking owners are providing a much better parking experience.
Frictionless parking suites typically include access and revenue control equipment (the gates that permit access and egress and the associated payment equipment), license plate recognition (LPR) equipment, parking guidance technology, and a reservations and/or mobile payment platform.
A Better Parking Experience
Here’s how frictionless parking works: before heading to the parking facility the parker creates a payment account online or purchases a parking permit. As part of the transaction, the driver inputs their vehicle’s license plate and credit card information. When the driver enters the garage or lot, the LPR technology recognizes the vehicle, associates it with the transaction, and the meter starts running. If the facility has a parking guidance system, a series of cameras and signs directs the driver to available parking. When it’s time to leave, the parker exits and the LPR recognizes the vehicle and raises the gate automatically. The system also calculates the fee and charges the driver’s credit card.
It’s a seamless process that dramatically improves the parking experience. By entirely automating the process, the frictionless technology makes parking turnkey. The driver just needs to drive in, find a space, and drive out when he or she is done parking, and there’s literally nothing else for the driver to worry about. And in the age of COVID, frictionless parking also promotes public health by eliminating interactions between parking staff and patrons, as well as eliminating common touchpoints like credit card readers.
Parking owners and operators benefit, too. For instance, facilities with frictionless parking have a significant competitive edge, particularly in closely developed areas where there are typically many garages and lots competing for the same customers. Drivers, especially those who commute or visit a particular city often, will gravitate towards garages and lots that provide the most convenient and enjoyable experience. Drivers want safety, they don’t want to experience the stress of searching for parking, and they don’t want to wait in exit queues when they are ready to go home. Frictionless parking eliminates these hassles and promotes a smoother, enhanced experience.
The Role of Parking Guidance in Frictionless Parking
Guidance is an essential element of frictionless parking. In fact, it’s probably the most customer-centric element of a frictionless system because it can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to find a parking space. Some systems can reduce searches for available spaces by up to 20 minutes! For drivers, think of the gas and time saved. For retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues think of how much extra time your patrons may have to shop and dine.
Parking guidance technology also makes parking safer. When drivers are led directly to available spaces, cars aren’t circling garages looking for spaces, which dramatically reduces the risk of collisions between vehicles or between vehicles and people who have already parked. Thus, parking owners and operators can reduce their liability.
There are also other, more subtle ways that owners and operators benefit. For instance, parking guidance technology promotes full occupancy by reducing the risk that drivers will get exasperated because they can find parking and leave. Traditionally, owners and operators have considered their facilities full when they achieve 85-90% occupancy because there are always spaces that go undiscovered. Being able to fill those additional 10-15% of spaces that might otherwise go unused can result in $10,000+ in additional daily parking revenue.
The software that manages parking guidance systems also provides operational benefits by recording utilization data for the spaces in the facility. Parking owners and operators can find out with what their average occupancy levels are, when peak times are, and when the slowest times are. This information can be used to institute dynamic pricing, better manage parking permits, or reallocate spaces for different uses, such as handicap parking, valet, and other specialized uses.
Frictionless parking has taken the parking industry—and the many industries that rely on parking—by storm over the past five years. Parking guidance is an essential element of frictionless parking that provides extraordinary benefits to both parking owners and their customers.