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10 Must-Have Features in an Online Parking Booking System

14 Mar 2024
Sarah Marks

Parking often flies under the radar in shaping customer experiences. When done right, it can add a touch of ease and comfort to the customer’s journey. And when done wrong? It can sour the initial interaction, setting a less than ideal tone.

Then there are the opportunities for airports and venues — a good parking experience for customers can result in an increase pre-bookings, ensuring a steady non-aeronautical revenue stream.

Selecting an online parking booking system that hits the mark for a good parking experience goes beyond technical specifications. It involves securing stakeholder buy-in — a critical step for any project’s success. Finding a partner you can count on involves doing your due diligence into their approach, from the customer experience to customer support and everything in between.

Here’s a comprehensive checklist of key elements to look for when choosing an online parking booking system.

1. User-friendly interface and experience

Did you know that a staggering 88% of users won’t give a website a second chance if they have a poor experience? Check the parking booking system’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) capabilities to ensure a seamless and user-friendly booking process for customers looking to reserve parking spaces in your lot.

Simplicity and accessibility

Simplicity and accessibility in an online parking system ensure that every user, regardless of ability, can easily navigate and use the service without frustration or confusion.

  • Ensure the system enables you to feature a minimalistic design that prioritises essential information, such as the availability of parking spaces, parking rates, and distance from the venue or terminal.
  • The app’s navigation should be straightforward, with clearly labelled menus and logically organised content that helps users to easily find what they need.
  • The system should enable you to create a parking page that’s accessible to a diverse range of users, including those with visual, auditory, or physical impairments.
  • Look for a system that lets you customise not just the aesthetics but also the user journey within the booking platform so you can simplify complex booking tasks for customers. Examples include using forms that auto-fill user information (where appropriate) and providing clear instructions for each step.

Mobile optimisation

Google research shows that 62% of users are less likely to make a future purchase if they have a bad mobile experience. Given that around 61% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, mobile optimisation isn’t a “nice to have” feature anymore — it’s an expected part of the customer experience and guarantees that customers can access the parking system smoothly on any device, offering convenience for those booking on the go.

The parking booking solution you choose should enable you to design a booking platform that is fully responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts and looks great on any device or screen size, whether it’s a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.

This includes:

  • Text size that adjusts to be easily readable on small screens without zooming.
  • Buttons and links that are big enough to tap easily on a touchscreen.
  • Optimised images and content that load quickly even on slower mobile connections.
  • Content that minimises the need for scrolling, especially horizontally.

2. Real-time availability and pricing

By offering real-time data, customers can make informed decisions without the guesswork associated with parking availability and costs. This transparency reduces stress and enhances the overall customer experience, as they know exactly what to expect upon arrival.

Dynamic pricing

Incorporating dynamic pricing into your parking services not only maximises your revenue opportunities during peak times but also can offer more attractive pricing during off-peak periods, appealing to a broader range of customers.

  • Your parking booking system should have the ability to adjust prices based on factors you choose, including demand, seasonality, or special events.
  • Choose systems that can integrate with loyalty and rewards programs, offering discounts or special rates for frequent users.

Live updates

Having live updates enables you to employ dynamic pricing strategies while enabling your customers to have a real-time view of parking availability.

  • The app must display current prices and availability of parking spots so that customers make decisions based on actual information.
  • Ensure the system provides immediate booking confirmations and, if applicable, notifications about booking status or changes, directly within your airport or venue’s app or via email and SMS.

User-friendly interface for administrators

Make it easy for administrators to see, analyse, and implement strategies based on real-time data. The system should have an intuitive admin interface that enables your team to easily set pricing rules, make adjustments, and monitor the impact of dynamic pricing on demand and revenue.

3. Secure payment processing

The ease of making payments is directly linked to customer satisfaction. However, it’s the underlying security measures and compliance standards that transform convenience into confidence for both operators and customers.

Multiple payment options

Offering multiple payment options caters to the diverse preferences of all users, ensuring everyone can find a convenient way to pay.

  • The parking book system should offer customers a broad range of payment options, including credit and debit cards, PayPal, and contactless payments like NFC.
  • Look for a system that supports local and international payment methods and currencies, accommodating the needs of both domestic and international travellers and enhancing overall accessibility.

Encryption and compliance

A 2022 survey found that more than half the people who conduct online transactions are concerned about fraud. Having robust measures in place to protect customers’ financial information is critical to fostering trust in the security of their transactions.

  • Ensure the system adheres to industry compliance standards, such as PCI DSS, to guarantee secure payment processing and protect against financial fraud
  • Verify that the system employs high-level encryption for data protection, safeguarding sensitive customer information against breaches.

4. Advanced booking features

The right set of advanced features enables you to give your customers options, enhancing the convenience for drivers looking for stress-free parking solutions and making every parking experience feel personalised.

Flexible booking options

Plans change, flights get delayed, and unexpected events happen. Giving customers flexibility when it comes to parking can help ease their minds about the unpredictability of travel schedules.

  • The system should support pre-booking a parking spot, as well as the option for customers to modify or cancel their reservations if their needs change.
  • Ensure the system allows for the reservation of family-sized or accessible parking spots, catering to specific needs and improving inclusivity.
  • Provide options for customers to easily extend their parking time through the app if their return is delayed, offering flexibility and reducing stress for travellers.

Automated upsell opportunities

Your parking solution should enable you to automatically suggest upgrades or additional services based on the customer’s booking preferences, enhancing revenue opportunities and personalising the customer experience. This can include upgrades to premium spots that are closer to the terminal or encouraging customers to join the airport’s loyalty program, offering immediate perks or discounts on the current booking as an incentive.

Automating these processes reduces the need for customers to interact with airport or venue employees. Not only does this make the processes one step faster, the move towards touchless technology is also a step towards future-proofing airport operations.

5. Integrated CRM and marketing tools

The right customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing tools can transform your parking system from a service provider into a valued travel partner with targeted marketing strategies to drive engagement and repeat business.

Customer management

A built-in CRM that captures parking information can help you manage customer data, preferences, and booking history and get to know your customers better.

  • Look for CRM tools that allow for the segmentation of customers based on their behaviour, preferences, and booking patterns. This enables targeted communication and offers, enhancing personalisation and customer engagement.
  • Ensure the system includes features for collecting and managing customer feedback and reviews. This not only aids in improving service quality but also in building trust with new and existing customers.

Promotional tools

Giving out special offers and rewards draws in more customers during slow periods and makes them feel more valued, encouraging repeat use of your parking services.

  • Look for the capability to easily create and manage customisable coupons and vouchers. This should include options for setting specific conditions such as minimum spend, validity periods, and usage limits, offering flexibility in how discounts are applied and promoted.
  • Seek out systems that support the creation and automation of email marketing campaigns or SMS messages. This includes the ability to schedule promotions in advance, segment audiences for targeted campaigns, and personalise messages based on customer data and preferences.

6. Analytics and reporting

Having a robust analytics and reporting system helps understand what customers need and how well the parking system is working. This knowledge is key to making parking better for users and helping the airport or venue run more smoothly and successfully.

Insightful dashboards

Real-time data and analytics dashboards enable your team to monitor booking trends, revenue, and customer behaviour. With this information, they can make proactive, data-driven decisions and strategic plans to increase the bottom line. Look for dashboards that include predictive analytics features, capable of forecasting future trends in parking demand, customer behaviour, and revenue generation.

Custom reports

Your airport or venue may have different needs depending on its location, size, or any number of other factors. Look for customisable reporting features to track performance and customer behaviour so you can be certain you’re getting the data you need for your operations.

The system should provide options for sharing and exporting reports in various formats such as PDF, Excel and CSV files to make communication among teams and with external partners easy.

7. Seamless integrations

A system that easily integrates with existing airport operations and technologies helps streamline processes, making it easy for your team and customers to use.

Third-party compatibility

A parking system works well with other software makes managing everything from one place easier and more efficient.

  • Look for a system that makes it easy to work with your existing tech stack, including your airport or venue management systems, loyalty and rewards programs, payment gateways, and CRM platforms.
  • Integration with your on-site hardware, like entry and exit barriers, can help manage the flow of traffic.

API access

Secure and flexible API access is essential for enabling future enhancements and integrations, keeping your system adaptable and ahead of technological advancements. Make sure the API provides secure access mechanisms, including authentication and encryption protocols, to protect sensitive customer and operational data during interactions between systems.

8. Reliability and support

Choose a parking system that won’t let you down during peak times, with proven reliability and support that ensure your parking operations run smoothly, day or night, without leaving your staff or customers stranded.

Uptime guarantees

Nobody wants a parking system that keeps having technical difficulties. Emergencies happen, but a good parking booking system should be reliable with minimal disruptive downtime.

  • Look at the vendor’s track record for system uptime and their protocol for handling outages.
  • Ensure the vendor has robust disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place. This includes backups and quick restoration capabilities to minimize any impact on operations.
  • Check how frequently the system undergoes maintenance. Opt for providers that schedule regular maintenance during off-peak hours to minimise disruption, ensuring consistent availability during critical operating times.

Customer support

Having accessible customer support ensures that any issues with booking or using the parking system are quickly resolved, maintaining a smooth experience for users and operators alike.

  • Ensure that the vendor provides adequate resources for training during the initial setup phase and for troubleshooting.
  • Support should be accessible for both you and your customers, including FAQs and live chat.
  • Consider whether the vendor provides a dedicated account manager or support team familiar with your specific setup, offering personalised assistance and strategic advice.

9. Scalable infrastructure

Your parking booking system should be able to grow with your business, accommodating increases in parking spaces and user traffic.

  • Look for a system with a modular design that allows for the addition of new features or services as your needs evolve, without requiring a complete overhaul of the existing setup.
  • Consider cloud-based platforms that offer elasticity, automatically adjusting resources to handle fluctuating demand seamlessly and ensuring consistent performance during peak periods.

10. Compliance and data security

Global data privacy laws come with stringent requirements — and hefty fines. Your parking system should have strict measures in place to adhere to these requirements and keep customer data safe.

Legal compliance

For airports serving international travellers, ensure the system complies not only with local laws but also with global data protection regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), providing comprehensive protection across jurisdictions.

Look for systems that undergo regular audits to ensure ongoing compliance with changing legal requirements, helping to safeguard your operations against legal and financial penalties.

Data security

Data breaches are a reality in the digital world, and the fourth quarter of 2023 alone saw more than 8 million records exposed. Your parking booking solution should have strong cybersecurity measures in place to protect user data.

  • Ensure the system uses advanced encryption technologies for data at rest and in transit, protecting sensitive information from unauthorised access.
  • Verify that the provider has a clear incident response plan in place for potential data breaches, detailing procedures for containment, eradication, and recovery, as well as communication strategies for stakeholders.
  • Look for a system that enables you to configure different access levels for various staff members, ensuring that employees can only access the information and functionalities relevant to their roles, enhancing security and operational efficiency.

Make parking easier for your customers with Rezcomm

Integrating a new parking system can signal the start of change, affecting not just the technology infrastructure but also how teams across your airport or venue adapt to new processes. Change is never easy, and the transition is smoother when you choose the right vendor to guide you through both, the technical aspects and the human and operational shifts that accompany such a change.

Rezcomm’s team of experts is on hand to help you implement our parking booking solution that not only meet current needs but also adapts to future technological advancements and changing consumer behaviours. Download the brochure, watch the video, or get in touch to know more about how we can turn your parking services into steady revenue.