Airports make money from four distinct areas of concrete: runways, which generate landing fees; concession space, which generate leasing fees; roadways, which generate ground transportation fees; and finally garages, which generate parking fees. At some of the largest airports in the U.S., parking revenues are nearly equal to landing fee revenues, and in some cases may exceed the landing fees.
Generating these sizable revenues (in some cases, greater than $125M per year) requires moving thousands of vehicles daily, in a smooth operatic dance that almost never stops. Creating efficiency at this scale takes a knowledgeable staff and a willingness to evaluate and deploy technology. If you are observant entering and exiting the airport the next time you travel, you will likely see some, if not many, of these technologies speeding customers to and from their flights.
If you live near a major toll road that uses RFID vehicle transponders, then you have probably also seen cars approach airport entry gates and the gate goes up immediately, without the need to pull a ticket. They will also exit just as fast and the entire revenue generation cycle will have completed without a ticket being pulled or a window being rolled down.
Implementing license plate cameras (LPR or ANPR) supports rapid remote lost ticket resolution, among other features, and upon exit, recognizes that the parking fee has been paid and quickly raises the gate.
Getting online before your flight and using an online reservation system means you can scan the reservation barcode on your phone upon entry and exit, and only pay extra if you have overstayed your reservation period. Many online reservation systems are tied to customer loyalty programs, allowing the airport to be more competitive compared to off airport parking.
Using your credit card upon entry and exit (CCIO or credit card in/out) means you don’t have to worry about finding a misplaced ticket, and it reduces the paper consumable usage for the airport.
Parking guidance systems (PGS) significantly increase the opportunity to find an open space quickly, thereby reducing the stress of finding parking in large garages. These systems use a variety of sensors to perform their function, such as radar, cameras (optical), etc. Today, we are seeing these sensing technologies manufactured directly into lighting, adding capability while reducing infrastructure.
Most new Pay-on-Foot (POF) devices have larger screens, which provide a number of capabilities and benefits, to parker and airport alike. For airports, portions of these screens can be used for advertising for additional revenue or other airport informational purposes. For parkers, these displays might show current local weather or local road conditions. The airport could provide a discount if the boarding pass 1D barcode is scanned during payment. Finally, when integrated with a PGS or LPI system, these POF devices can provide a ‘find my car’ function, eliminating the need for a separate ‘find my car’ kiosk.
License plate inventory (LPI) systems can be used during slow times to provide inventory and location information. Capturing the license plate information can either be performed with a handheld device or mounted on a vehicle, if the number of spaces warrants the additional investment. While LPI do not assist in finding an open space in real-time like a PGS, they can provide location inputs to a POF, for the ‘find my car’ search function.
There are number of mobile payment options whereby the patron never needs to pay at a POF or exit terminal but simply pays from the comfort of their vehicle. Some of these apps are provided by third parties while others are offered by the PARCS provider. When coupled with LPR, the exit is expedited.
In entry and exit terminals, pinhole cameras allow customer services agents to see the patron who has pressed the intercom button. With the addition of a web camera in front of the customer service rep, a real-time face-to-face interaction can take place, which has been shown to increase customer satisfaction when dealing with an issue. Additionally, the customer service agent can not only see the patron, but they can simultaneously see what the patron is seeing on the entry/exit device, so misunderstandings are reduced and calls shortened. For after-hours support, there is technology that allows the customer support function to move from on-site to a centralized location, which provides personalized support from a third party.
As we see an increase in electric vehicles and their associated charging stations, airports have the option of doing nothing and permitting the free use of the charging station, or they can connect the charging stations to the revenue control system (PARCS) and either add a fee for the usage of the station, or provide a parking discount for using the station.
The beauty of these technologies is that they can be added incrementally, most times directly integrated with the PARCS. This allows the airport to implement new capability in a deliberate, step-wise fashion as their budget and operations require. Each one adds efficiency to the airport and creates an improved consumer experience for the parking patron.
How many of these will you spot on your next airport visit?
With 50 years of experience and after operating under various well know flags such as Ascom or ACS, Orbility is a world leader in innovative Parking Management Systems. Whatever the size and scope of your project, we have the expertise to ensure that installation is on time and within budget. We supply our solutions to a diverse range of customers around the world (airports, shopping centers, airports, municipalities, public and private operators). From the busiest airports and largest hospitals to smaller, more local off-street services, we can tailor the solution for you.