Parking in the Post-COVID World

January 21, 2022

By Coley Nash

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a lot of new complexity in the business world, particularly in commercial office space occupancy. But one related area that’s frequently overlooked is the collection of pitfalls in the traditional handling of commercial real estate parking garages, and how these were exacerbated by the pandemic.

Building owners saw substantial parking revenue drops driven by lost parking garage fees as remote working became the norm and tenants and contract parkers no longer needed reserved spaces. More recently, many companies see mass staff turnover resulting from workers reassessing their pre-pandemic job situations, and database and access credential management has become backlogged, leading to administrative migraines and a loss of revenue.

Companies are finally returning to the workplace, though. And that presents a good opportunity for building owners to rethink how their parking operation is managed – along with what the future of parking might look like in the unpredictable post-COVID world.  To this end, Kastle has launched KastlePark, giving building owners the operational flexibility and data insight to manage this transition successfully.

One thing’s certain: For the near term, at least, commuting is going to be vastly different than it was in 2019. As people begin to return to the office on a regular (or semi-regular) basis, they’re adjusting their travel habits. Public transportation, with its often-crowded conditions, has lost some of its appeal and an escalating number of people are expected to opt for driving to work.

That’s putting some pressure on office parking garages, which are filling up, but doing so with daily transient revenue instead of recurring monthly income. So rather than registering for a long-term parking contract, many workers are opting to pull a ticket and pay the daily rate or make an online parking reservation (often at a heavy discount), since they’re only coming in a few times per week. That not only disrupts the consistency of revenue flow for which the property owner can plan, it also makes it challenging for building operators to predict occupancy.

KastlePark is designed to adapt to changing user needs with dynamic access permitting and pricing capabilities. One option it offers to alleviate this forecasting problem is Flexible Permitting, a parking pass that gives the user a set number of days per week or month that they can use for parking as needed but are purchased in advance. This flexible type of permit will allow building owners to convert those ‘mystery’ pay-per-use parkers into recurring pre-purchasing customers, resulting in forecastable revenue and better insight into customer behavior.

Parking forecast accuracy for a complex commercial property, however, is dependent upon up-to-the-minute parking usage data in combination with building occupancy information. KastlePark is uniquely able to integrate both parking garage usage and building access data for owners to reference, showing them which tenants (and their employees) are coming back to the office and which are (and aren’t) utilizing the parking facility.

KastlePark’s transparent record keeping also lets you track multiple variables of new parking behavior. Owners can glean insight into metrics like, which days have the heaviest tenant parking activity, which tenants overuse their allotted access, and which might not be utilizing the parking garage at all.

With that knowledge in hand, asset managers can optimize parking products and hours to maximize revenue, while still having a good grasp on the parking allotment needed to meet the changing parking demands of tenant traffic flows. This increase in movement analytics also opens up the possibility of additional parking permit issuances to non-tenants and direct marketing opportunities

Owners, for example, can outsell empty areas of their garage to nearby buildings that don’t have a parking structure of their own, maximizing revenue on existing space that might otherwise go unused because they didn’t know the capacity existed. Alternatively, specials on daily parking can be offered for specific parts of the day, lunch time for instance, when occupancy may be low.

Many building owners and operators may not realize these options exist because the parking operation was so far removed from their oversight in the historically outsourced parking model. But because KastlePark is an integrated managed service for the owner/operator, we talk through goals and operations with clients and provide the data insight to optimize performance – everything from how to better utilize parking spaces to adopting methods to generate additional revenue.

Parking is just a small component of the changing hybrid workplace, but it’s one that presents loads of opportunity to grow revenue while also improving tenant experience.

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