“The parking landscape at this current time remains a desolate and often lonely place in many respects,” says Ben Ziff, Managing Director at CitiPark. Taking the time to walk through a number of their locations during the pandemic has, he says, served to highlight that Covid-19 has caused material and irrevocable damage to the parking industry.
Overlooked by Government in their business rates discount listings, many parking have been left with large ongoing financial commitments, often with little or no assistance from landlords on rents. “It has truly opened our eyes, made us re-evaluate the way we work and look closely at the future of the parking industry as a whole,” says Ziff.
He believes that the way in which people interact with parking is undoubtedly going to change for the foreseeable future and it is imperative the parking industry adapts to those changing needs to stand any chance of recovery. “It was encouraging to see small, although short-lived, green shoots when the lockdown was eased previously,” he says.
Mobility studies have shown large increases in private car usage in those countries where ‘normality’ has resumed, and so Ziff remains positive that as the work undertaken by the NHS and the vaccination programme continues, the country will see this recovery return for the long term.
Rather than sit and dwell on what has been happening over the past 12 months, he tells that CitiPark has taken this time to develop new products in preparation for when customers make a long awaited and welcome return.
New client and customer-focused products, such as its CitiPass commercial platform, allows businesses to benefit from preferential parking rates, whilst controlling the allocation of their own spaces dynamically and in real time. “We believe this creates real flexibility for those who won’t have a rigid working pattern, but still require the benefit of guaranteed and affordable parking for their staff,” says Ziff.
Continued investment in the CitiPark app is allowing its customers to purchase all parking products digitally and is completely contactless. Digital season tickets are now available immediately and can be stored in smartphone wallets. And pre-booking linked to ANPR systems means that a customer’s parking experience is simple and with no need to interact with any on-site parking payment equipment.
Ziff predicts that flexibility will remain a key theme in the post-Covid-19 world and CitiPark’s tailored product development will continue with the release of a flexible season ticket product, alongside integrated EV charging and new drive-up customer payment solutions.
He adds: “We look forward to a time where businesses can re-open and staff can return to their place of work. Beyond the current restrictions, continued concerns from people faced with using public transport will provide an opportunity for our industry. The provision of safe, secure and contactless parking will play its role in bringing confidence back to the commercial, high street and leisure industries and people moving beyond Covid-19.”
This story was originally published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Subscribe here.