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Webinar Recap: The COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Planning for Parking: Data, Tech, and Opportunities

Panelists: Dan Roarty, President and COO of Arrive Roamy Valera, CEO of PaybyPhone Rick West, CEO of Millennium Garages and West FSI Ben Martel, CEO of Inugo. Hosted by Wen Sang, CEO of Smarking.


00:00: Introduction by panelists, including scope of operations

06:36: State of the market by Wen Sang

11:03: What is your anticipation of the recovery profile of the US industry from now to December 2020. What do you think could be the worst case scenario? And the best case scenario?

20:25: What is your expected revenue loss in 2020? And what are the behavioral changes of consumers you anticipate?

34:37: How do we beat the worst case scenario? How does technology and data play a role? And what can we learn from the past?

48:26: What are your recommendations to parking professionals in the coming days, in terms of risk factors but also opportunities? 57:00: Start of the Q&A

**Questions that we didn't have time for are published below.**


Questions from attendees

Barry Kohlus: Do you anticipate a change in the use of public transportation?

Rick: In New York subway is less than 10% of it's typical volume, and the rail in Chicago is off 97% of its volume. In Chicago two thirds of the commuters going to the downtown area drive, and the other third takes mass transit. So, how long will it take for it to shift over? We'll see, but that's the size of the opportunity right now.

Dan: And it isn't just transit - ride share businesses as well. Any type of shared forms of transit will take a huge hit, any form of shared mobility. There will be a period where people avoid shared forms of transit. How long will it take? Well in areas like Manhattan, people rely on this transportation, so it will come back, the question is how quickly. But in the meantime, how can we serve those customers effectively? Hopefully this can help soften the blow to parking.

Ben: One of the benefits of this situation is that roads are empty so, someone people that normally take public transit are just driving in because it’s easier. That will take a decay as people start to come back and traffic builds back up, but the cost value is different now. Driving is safer in their bubble. I trust my car, I don’t trust the bus or the train.

David Agosti: At University Environment we're expecting supply challenges in September because of decreased gas costs and decreased transit supply/transit cleanliness issues, but then pressure to keep prices low because people "have to" drive, anyone else seeing the same? Rick: The world is producing millions of barrels of oil above demand. In the US this has filled almost 100% of oil storage facilities including ships. The starting recession will continue to suppress oil & gas demand. As a result I would expect gas prices, driven by the market, to remain low in 2020. Dan: If you are suggesting that parking lots will be filled because so many people feel driving is better, I think there will be yet-unknown trends in work from home (and continued unemployment) that mean parking lots are still not filled and pricing may still need to be low to compete. Really hard to say at this point. Amar Bajwa: Hello guys, it's Amar from PArk2Go Canada, my question is regarding the impact and recovery for Airport valet parking. Rick: First question is the recovery of air travel. From 9/11 experience it will take a few years. Leisure travel likely will come back first as it did post 9/11. If your business focus is business travelers you should diversify to increase your leisure customer base. Besides the above, your pre-Covid customers are still your customers so will use you again when they start flying again so stay in touch with them via email, website posts, etc. and tell them how you are sanitizing their car before you give it back to them and sanitizing your shuttles and limiting how many people will be on a shuttle. Ben: Following on from Rick, it's also important to understand what humans will think of Valet as a service in general. I share Ricks comments in the webinar that people will not want someone else in their vehicle at any point in time. If there is an alternative I think people will choose it! Dan: I agree when there are many choices, people will choose self park options vs. Valet. In cities like New York where Valet is often the only choice, I do think Valet Operators will need to come up with ways to signal to customers that they are operating safely - whether that is a sanitization program or something else, it will be key to comfort. Justin Donaldson: When representing the effects of COVID, why use YoY for comparison? It looks like early Q1 showed 25%+ on average already YoY. Is there value in comparing to the earlier part of Q1. Wen: The YOY comparison is used to show the difference of 2020 parking demand/business performance compared to the same time period last year, i.e. using 2019 as the baseline to judge how we are doing in 2020. From the chart, before 3/13, the YOY is primarily positive, exactly as you pointed out, +25% for some days, meaning business is growing across board in the US parking market; after 3/13, the YOY went to negative, ranging from -75% to -95%, meaning business is doing really bad in the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 2019. Here’s more details. Robert Frilot III: Any advice on how to encourage hospital valets that are worried about getting into patient vehicles? Ben - Wow, that's a hard one! In Asia/Ocenia they have closed the hospital carparks to the public or patients for this very reason of cross-infection. They are however allowing essential workers e.g. nurses etc to park for free. Dan - First, providing a consistent method for accepting a vehicle, training and providing materials to handle a car safely will be key for valet drivers and guests alike. Potentially sick people are as worried about a valet who has handled other vehicles as the valets are worried about the sick people. Having a checklist of steps that get followed every time - from wearing masks and gloves, to wiping down steering wheels, keys, gearshifts with wipes to handling payment, each step should minimize contact, be handled cleanly and consistently - and ADVERTISE those steps as people pull into stations. Grocery stores have done a great job of putting signs on entryways, stickers on floors and at checkout stations to remind people to follow sensible guidelines - no reason Valets can’t do the same. Ray Gonzalez: What do you think the future will look like for parking equipment? Ben - maybe I am biased, but I think the future looks more digital by nature. This is for two main reasons - it's cheaper to deploy and secondly it actually creates a better relationship with the parker because you know who they are. How do you do clever engagement strategies like loyalty programs when you don’t know who the parker is - especially transient parking where the margins are generally higher? So in the long run - there should be no need for ticket spitters but I certainly see the need for barrier arms as they serve other purposes than just being a barrier to entry - no pun intended :) Andrew Hill: Several of the panel members mentioned continuing collaboration with municipalities and public agencies. Given that the initial recovery is likely to be fueled by single-occupant vehicle drivers (who might be formerly transit riders or TNC patrons), how much targeting marketing of folks who used to be transit riders or other mobility patrons is considered 'fair play'? Dan - Parking operators, ride share operators, transit proponents and cities have often unnecessarily been put at odds when in reality they all rely on each other. Growing cities only work when all of these modes of transport work together, and a post-Covid environment is no different. Advertising to transit riders that driving and parking may be a good short term choice is very fair play. As things get safer (or the perception of safety is higher) and people return to trains for economic or congestion reasons in cities like NYC, then Parking will continue to offer itself as an alternative and a potential solution for fleets, other uses of land and potential logistics and mobility hubs as it was before Covid. Andrew Hill: For major operators with valet locations - like REEF - do you simply start cutting those folks loose or is there a way to repurpose them in other roles? Dan - We have seen an increased interest from fleets and logistics players (delivery fleets, food delivery, etc.) to use parking facilities as potential hubs for activities. The same people that were parking cars could be re-purposed for cleaning services, logistics services and more to aid in more contactless deliveries to homes and offices. Barry Kohlus: By anticipating a dramatic change in public transportation use, have you built that change into your monthly / transient forecasts? Pete Messman: To the point Rick made about PARCS, 4 of the 5 of you are technology vendors to operators. How are you expecting the slowdown of ~60% to impact your buying processes with municipalities, operators, etc.? Ben - Simple answer, it will affect it. What inugo is seeing is actually not a drop in interest it’s an increase in interest. Most digital access technologies like our own are actually low-cost, particularly when compared to more traditional approaches and they speak right to the pain point. Remembering that one technology can be used by a number of digital transaction providers if they integrate that technology into their apps. This is actually the reason for the software development kit that inugo offers. Everyone agrees that having more than one way to digitally vend a gate at a gated facility makes no sense. Also, remember it doesn’t have to be traditional or digital - they can both co-exist at the same facility. Rick mentioned that he will be delaying purchasing new PARCS so he will be using digital interactions to sweat the PARCS assets he already has. This is a very common perspective we are seeing. Kibreab Woldemichael: It is clear that COVID19 situation will expedite our industry to transform from legacy solutions to digital solutions. However, the success of the transformation will depend on creating a standard interface or interconnectivity between PARCS Solutions providers either be Legacy systems or new technology providers. How do you see to bring all stakeholders to agree on one standard interface? Dan - I don’t see an immediate rush to a single standard, but I do see us aligning on fewer standards - whether that is QR codes, bluetooth or something else remains to be seen, but we need to ensure that every facility is capable of a touchless transaction. We (at Arrive) obviously have been working on this for a while, and I think our partnerships with Apple, Google, Mastercard and others in the payment industry will help guide this discussion.

But - unlike a retail environment where you know a human is standing at a checkout lane with a mobile phone, we have the added inconvenience of a car (and potentially a connected or autonomous car in the future) in the middle of the transaction. It will require continued discussion and collaboration on how to best move forward and we know most PARCS players and tech players are up for the challenge. Doug Young: Regarding the event industry, what is the future of the cashier and the guest paying cash to attend a concert or a football game? Dan - We have seen an ongoing trend of pre-purchase of parking before events, often bundled with ticket purchases. This has helped reduce cash loss, reduce ingress time for fans and other benefits. At a minimum, given the general move towards mobile payments, we would expect Venues to be more interested in providing handheld contactless payment support (through mobile wallets or tap-to-pay credit cards). I think this accelerates the reduction in cash no matter what and will benefit those that provide lightweight, cost effective solutions to support pre-payment and quick on-site payment with phones and cards.

Thank you to our wonderful panelists!

Arrive PaybyPhone Millennium Garages Inugo

Hosted by Dr. Wen Sang, CEO, Smarking

Wen Sang is the Co-Founder and CEO of Smarking, the leading business intelligence and yield management provider for parking. Currently empowering 2,000+ parking locations across North America. Connect on LinkedIn


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