Top Ways to Improve Airport Parking
Many airport operation supervisors are aware that a customer's airport experience starts long before they enter their flight terminal. Each customer's enjoyment — or lack thereof — starts the moment their vehicle's tires enter your parking lot. What happens next could determine whether they choose your airport again in the future.
Optimizing airport parking is crucial because it can help ensure customers return to your airport for their next flight. A single unpleasant parking experience could be enough to turn first-time customers into last-time customers. Knowing how to improve the airport parking experience for your customers can help keep them coming back for more.
Ways to Improve Airport Parking Experience for Customers
A good parking experience requires more than a smooth parking lot with plenty of spaces. Many factors influence how each customer feels as they enter your parking lot, find a spot, and make their way inside. You can invest in a pleasant airport parking lot experience for your customers using the following improvement techniques:
1. Use Automated Technology
Long lines and congested entrances and exits can turn a good day into a stressful day for your customers. If people are running late for a flight, experiencing a holdup in the parking lot could lead to a sour mood. If they miss their flight because of a long wait, chances are high they will choose a different airport next time.
You need to ensure the flow of traffic keeps moving in your parking lot, whether your guests are entering or exiting. People may be stressed after a long trip or excited to leave for a vacation, and a bottlenecked parking lot can lead to frustration and negative thoughts about your parking lot and airport.
Automated technology can help speed things up in your parking lot, leading to happier customers. One way you can automate is with internet payments. This can allow your customers to pay for their parking online using their smartphones when they return from their trip so they can drive away without having to stop at a payment booth on the way out.
You could also allow credit or debit card payments at the entry or exit point to make the payment process faster while still ensuring access to your parking lot is only available for paying customers. Having employees manually process each car that comes in and out can be time-consuming, so an automated payment system could help reduce congestion when people are trying to pay their parking bill.
2. Offer a Shuttle Service
Depending on the size of the airport, you could have well over a thousand parking spots. During your busy seasons and holidays, you could approach capacity, leading to customers having to park far away from their terminal entrance. The walk from the car to the airport could be tiring or time-consuming, causing your customers to feel stressed as they hustle to the entrance to make their flight.
One way to make the trip from the car to the airport easier is by offering shuttle services. Hire shuttle drivers and put them on a consistent schedule so customers have the option of hitching a ride, shortening their journey to a fraction of what it would have been. Your customers may feel like you care about their comfort, even in the parking lot. This can set the tone for the rest of their visit at your airport.
For some people, knowing they can take a shuttle in the parking lot could be one of the main reasons they choose your airport. It could even help vacationers get in the "vacation mindset," leading to higher sales at the shops and restaurants in your airport. Give your customers the enjoyable experience they crave, starting with a comfortable shuttle service to take them right to the airport doors.
3. Implement Wayfinding Features
Having a difficult time finding an open parking spot can frustrate your guests. Difficulty finding spots is especially common in large parking lots reaching capacity levels. Your guests can drive through line after line of spots as the clock keeps ticking and their stress levels rise.
Take the mystery out of finding a parking spot by installing wayfinding features for your airport parking lot. Wayfinding features include standard and electronic signs that can guide customers to areas of the parking lot with open spaces. These features help customers find their spot soon after arriving so they can quickly catch their flight.
4. Install Covered Parking
On a hot, clear day, the sun can beat down on a wide-open parking lot, raising the interior temperatures of vehicles and causing uncomfortable conditions. As heat radiates off the blacktop, people can begin to feel faint as they make their way to the entrance of your airport, wishing for a bit of shade the whole way.
You can provide some respite from the sun with covered parking for your guests. These shade structures give cars some much-needed protection from the sun, lowering their internal temperatures by up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When people come back from a long trip, they will be thankful to experience cooler temperatures upon opening their car doors.
Install shade structures along walkways to help pedestrians feel comfortable on their way to and from your airport's entrance. A little shade can go a long way, and covered parking and walkways are sure to give your customers a more enjoyable experience on the hottest, sunniest days.
Ways to Optimize Airport Parking
Optimizing your airport's parking situation demands a multifaceted approach. Learn more about how you can achieve a streamlined and profitable parking lot with the following tips:
1. Set the Correct Price for Parking
Setting the correct price for the use of your parking lot is essential for making a high profit and optimizing your operations. There are two obvious signs that price may need adjusting:
- Your parking lot is always at capacity: Having a full parking lot can be a sign that your prices are too low. Low prices may attract more customers, including those who may normally choose to leave their car at home and hire a taxi. If your parking lot is reaching capacity all the time, you may want to consider raising your price to make more money per parking spot while leaving spaces open for flexibility.
- Over half of your parking spaces are empty on a regular basis: The reverse of the previous point could also indicate you need to rethink your parking price. You may be charging too much per parking spot if over half of your spots are vacant at any given time. Lower your prices to encourage more people to use your parking lot to store their car during their next trip.
High and low prices can both reduce your profits and make for an unoptimized parking lot. Strike the right balance to make more revenue while keeping some spaces open for new customers.
2. Offer Parking Spot Booking for Your Customers
Part of optimizing your airport's parking lot is making it easy for customers to secure a spot for their vehicle. Many customers avoid using an airport parking lot because of the stress and difficulty of finding a spot. With so many spaces and no guarantee they will find a spot, some customers choose to skip the process. If they decide to park their car, they could spend valuable minutes looking for the best available spot.
Booking options can remove these negative aspects and make parking one's car a breeze. Like booking a hotel room or reserving a table at a restaurant, signing up for a parking lot booking service lets you offer your customers the same level of convenience for your airport parking lot. Plus, you'll have a better idea of how full your parking lot will be in a day, which is an important step toward having an airport parking revenue management system.
By offering booking options, you can make buying a parking spot easier than ever. Using their computer or smartphone, your customers can buy a parking spot before their flight and know exactly where it is on your lot. Customers can feel confident there is a parking spot waiting for them instead of feeling anxiety over whether they will be able to find one in time for their flight. Parking booking can help keep your parking lot moving efficiently, making for a more optimized experience.
3. Install Signs to Direct Customers Toward Available Parking
Letting customers wander around your parking lot is the opposite of optimization. This behavior can create long lines of cars moving slower and slower, causing everyone to feel a higher level of stress before their flight. Sometimes, something as simple as a classic sign to direct traffic in the right direction can help customers know where to find an open spot and get the line moving again.
Signs, both electronic and printed, can be useful for helping customers find where they can park. Modern electronic signs can include detailed information — including directions — to steer customers. Other signs can include lights to show which lane to follow to reach open parking spots. If you'd rather use standards signs, putting up "vacancy" or "no vacancy" signs in parking lot rows can help customers know where they should focus their efforts when looking for a spot.
4. Contact Customers With Helpful Parking Information
You can contact your customers to further optimize your airport parking lot. When customers book their parking spot, you could ask them if they wish to receive email or text notifications for important reminders and helpful information on the day of their booking. Your customers can use the information on these communications to have an even easier time finding their parking spot when they arrive.
The texts or emails you send can include directions for where to go and what to do upon arriving at the parking lot. Include the most accurate information you can on how they can reach their parking spot. If you've organized your lot so each spot has its own name, this information can be a huge help in optimizing your parking lot. This information will also help customers find their spot again when they get back from their trip.
How to Improve Airport Parking Safety
We've talked about ways to improve your airport parking lot's optimization and how to invest in your customers' experience while using your parking lot. But there is a third pillar in which to invest — safety. Use the following tips to help make your airport parking lot a safer place for vehicles and pedestrians:
1. Create Separate Lanes for Vehicle and Foot Traffic
Parking lots can get chaotic by their nature. Everyone is on a different schedule with vehicles coming in and going out. Pedestrians are walking to and from the airport to reach their cars, which could be in all directions. One mistake could lead to serious property damage, injury or even death.
You can create a safer environment for everyone by creating clearly identifiable, separate lanes for drivers and walkers. You can use markings on the ground or sidewalks to show the separation, or you can take safety a step further by installing bollards or sturdy rails to protect pedestrians from wayward vehicles. Bollards and railings can also give drivers a more noticeable line of separation so they can stay a safe distance from pedestrians.
2. Install Security Features
Some of your customers will be leaving their cars in your parking lot for several days or weeks. Every customer, however long their trip, wants to feel confident their car is going to be safe while they are away. Increase the safety of your parking lot — and invest in your customers' peace of mind — by installing various security features.
Motion-detecting and always-on lighting systems can deter criminals from your parking lot, since lighting puts them at a greater risk of revealing their identity. Security cameras can also help deter criminals, especially if you mount them in noticeable places. These two simple safety features are powerful crime deterrents that can increase the safety of your airport parking lot.
3. Help Customers Find Parking Spots Faster
It stands to reason that if you help your customers find their parking spots faster, there will be a lower chance of accidents. If you have countless cars driving around aimlessly looking for an empty parking spot or their way to the exit, frustration levels can rise, and people could more easily make a mistake. This situation could be dangerous for your customers.
Organized parking lots with a good flow of traffic are safer than chaotic, haphazard parking lots. Part of caring for the safety of your customers is ensuring you've optimized your parking lot for easy parking by use of signs, lanes, and other tactics on this list.
4. Add Parking Protection and Shade Structures to Your Parking Lot
Parking shade and protection structures can help you passively achieve safer conditions for your parking lot. These structures are effective at keeping snow and hail from accumulating on and damaging your customer's vehicles. No customer wants to return from their vacation to find they have costly repairs waiting for them because of a damaged car. Parking protection structures can help prevent this damage from happening.
These structures can also help protect your customers and their vehicles from the harmful and uncomfortable effects of the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin as well as vehicle surfaces with prolonged exposure. Offer shade over walkways and parking spots to spare people and their cars from these harmful rays.
Tools Available to Improve Parking
You'll need the right tools to improve the parking situation at your airport. Consider the following four options if you want to give your customers a better, safer, and more optimized experience when parking at your airport:
- A five-year improvement plan: Think of a five-year improvement plan as a comprehensive tool that could help you achieve prime conditions in your parking lot in a few short years. A fully optimized parking lot takes time to develop, so structure your plan with patience in mind. Make a checklist of what you want to achieve and attainable goals you want to reach. When you stick to this plan, you'll have a parking lot that your customers will feel great using.
- Automated payment systems: Install automated payment systems in your airport parking lot to improve operations and keep your customers happy. These systems may be expensive to install and integrate at first, but over time they will pay for themselves in more happy customers choosing your parking lot for car storage during their trips. And since you will be able to employ fewer people in your parking lot, you can save money to further increase your profits, opening up your budget for more improvements.
- Parking guidance systems: Parking guidance systems can be the difference between your customers making or missing their flights when time is of the essence. Install parking guidance systems to bring your customers to an empty parking spot. With so many different types of guidance systems — from classic signs to complex LED systems — there's sure to be one that fits your budget and your immediate and long-term needs.
- Vehicle protection structures: Vehicle protection structures are some of the best tools you can use to improve the parking situation at your airport. From protecting vehicles and people from the sun's rays to helping keep cars safer from hail and snow damage, these structures can provide many benefits for your parking lot. They also add a nice aesthetic to your parking lot, bringing an air of luxury that could set the mood for your customers as they prepare for their flights.
Contact VPS for Shade and Protection Structures for Your Airport Parking Lot
Knowing how to improve the airport parking experience for your customers is crucial for increasing revenue and optimizing operations. VPS makes shade and protection parking structures that can set your parking lot apart from the competition. We're the industry leader in vehicle protection structures, so you can trust us to deliver a high-quality product that meets your needs and transforms your airport parking lot into a space your customers love to use for their car storage needs.