Parking Operators Should Be “Hyperlocal”—Here’s What That Means

The concept of being “hyperlocal” within mobility has pervaded urban planning discussions for the past two decades. So much so that areas and communities are being built with accessibility in mind. Indeed, adopting hyperlocal thinking can help cities “improve the planning and designing of neighborhoods, resulting in safer streets, as well as ease of access to shops and other services,” according to research findings from StartUs Insights. For evidence of the appeal, you need only look to innovative community concepts such as Arizona’s Culdesac Tempe.

What Does Hyperlocal Mean?

To adopt a hyperlocal mindset, you first need to understand the meaning of the term. From a city planning perspective, it’s used to describe visitors’ or citizens’ ability to access any resources they need within a short radius. This, in turn, reduces the need for excess travel, which has a cascading effect of decongesting areas and providing more efficient services for city dwellers.

Put into practice, this organizational philosophy looks like Paris’ “15-minute city” concept. For the average person, the result is being able to walk out your door and find any necessary resource within 15 minutes. It is, as project commissioner Carine Rolland describes it, a “city of proximates.”

Putting Hyperlocal Into Mobility and Parking

The idea of being pointedly local in your operations has taken many forms and names in mobility. LAZ Head of Innovation and Technology, Steve Gresh, describes it as falling within a suite of products and services dubbed “proximity-as-a-service. To Gresh, proximity is everything. It means being aware of the local universe in which your parking operation lives, and expanding your services to serve your customer’s needs within it.

To determine if your operations fall under this category, start by asking yourself this: Where does your job stop? If your answer is when the customer’s car is parked—you may not be fully taking into account the opportunity to go further by adopting a hyperlocal mentality. The following thought-starters can help you contemplate how to go farther, leading to potential new streams of revenue.

Dive Into Integrations

The mobility landscape has never been more exciting and full of new ways to foster transportation. In parking, you now have an opportunity to start communicating with your customer before they even begin the journey. Many would prefer to choose their parking destination before the trip, to avoid time-consuming headaches that arise from searching in the moment.

Taking advantage of integrations with other services is how modern parking operators go from stale to smart. Adopting eParking is a primary example of talking to your customer in their consideration phase. Digital signage and other digital platforms are other examples of enhancing the customer experience. Flash’s own partnerships with last-mile and customer-facing platforms like Arrive are available for operators to use, with multiple choices for integration.

Know Your City

Here’s the key to successfully embedding yourself within your local ecosystem: understanding your city and the nuances within it. This also includes its citizens and knowing what they care about in terms of commuting and transportation. In a previous piece, we’ve explored why cities are already in the habit of adapting themselves for mobility. The stage is set for mobility providers, including parking operators, to take advantage of urban transportation trends and understand their specific city’s needs.

The invitation to coordinate with municipal planners is wide open. Civil and Engineering Professor Stephen Boyles of the University of Texas at Austin states that there is an excellent opportunity for parking operators to provide valuable data and consumer habit information. In exchange, parking operators gain a more intimate knowledge of urban transportation priorities and can directly impact the outcomes.

Once you know your city, you’ll know its people. You’ll learn how they travel, what they care about, what their most significant stressors are, and what they wish they had more time in the day for. The answers to these questions can lead to more value added to your services and new revenue.

Leverage Your Platform and Tech

Does your technology or PARCS system actively make people’s commutes easier? Having a system that adds value beyond the baseline parking experience is the difference between being a detached parking operator and being a part of your local community.

Leveraging your technology’s capabilities tunes you into your local customers’ needs; it creates a natural hyperlocal awareness. Innovative operators, like ACE Parking, based in California, have been utilizing technology to communicate with local customers for years. According to owner Keith Jones, the company is “laser-focused on how to integrate technology to make a better parking and mobility experience.”

This sentiment includes a hyperlocal mindset, where your technology might be able to do things like make local event parking easier, or connect you to public transit so your customers’ entire journey can be seamless.

Foster Ways to Compliment Your Parker’s Journey

Your customers’ journey doesn’t end at your parking asset. They still have places to go, whether traveling back home or going somewhere else during the workday. Being aware of your community’s travel habits allows you to open the floor to more services.

Take micro-mobility, for example. Scooter and moped usage is increasing for urban travel as people aim to skip the traffic or avoid public transit altogether. It might be surprising to hear that only a small percentage of parking operators are taking advantage of this fact. Those that do are installing micro-mobility hubs in underutilized spaces within their asset. Now, parkers that need to travel to meetings or lunch dates can stay within the confines of their services.

Ride-share is another opportunity to enhance your offerings. In many cases, office workers will take taxis to get to meetings or other engagements. You can ensure these transactions happen within your operations by introducing ride-share spaces in your building. The added benefit: ride-share drivers now have a place to park while they wait for new fares. It’s an approach that Flash has done before, including with the City of Las Vegas. As an operator, you may be able to secure new partnerships and revenue streams while ensuring more of your customers’ journeys happen within the business.

Take Advantage of Your Local Universe

Your local ecosystem is comprised of yourself, citizens and commuters, businesses, and municipal operations. How in touch are you with the players in each of these categories? By understanding who they are and the relationships between each, you can insert yourself into more touchpoints of potential customers’ daily lives.

The options to provide alternative services are limited only by an operator’s understanding of their surroundings. But once tuned into the local ecosystem, options can range from including ghost kitchens (delivery-only restaurants which often operate in small spaces) to embedding laundry pickup and delivery services during the workday. The COVID-19 pandemic saw some operators turning their assets into drive-through testing centers. It’s in this spirit that operators can continue to find value in their spaces.

Ask yourself what added value you can add based on your location and all that happens within it. When you do that successfully, you build more than just a parking asset—you build a mobility hub.

Becoming a Hyperlocal Mobility Hub

We see all of the above as becoming the essence of the modern mobility hub. Mobility hubs are transportation centers at the intersection of consumer parking and urban innovation. Staying hyperlocal is key to ensuring you’re in touch with your city’s needs and inhabitants.

Your customers and local ecosystem are your greatest avenues for research. Take time to analyze their needs and connect with your municipality, and you’ll ensure you’re growing with your constituents instead of playing catch-up.

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