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John Van Horn

If you go to the online edition of September 2012 Parking Today, you will find all the “hot links” below, and even more current comments by PT Editor JVH.



Drivers Circulating Are Not Customers

Posted Oct. 8, 2012, by JVH

I have been browsing LinkedIn Parking Groups (there are more than 20) and found Parking It Here, a prolific blog by New Zealander Kevin Warwood. His latest money quote:

It must be learnt that people circulating in cars are not customers;  they are just people circulating in cars in your carpark because [it] is not efficiently run and it is acting as a bottleneck to your business.  Clearing out those who add less value is a sensible business decision.  High-performance parking in malls is also a sensible business decision. …

Parking Specialist Warwood did, however, bury the lead in his latest blog; you can read it here. I’m not surprised. He is pumping out articles faster than you can shake a Kiwi. And some good stuff, too. I commend his blog to you.

In this blog entry, he comments that [a few years back] a mall owner had been complaining about not having enough parking, but when Warwood and company researched the site, it was discovered that the garage was filled with folks who weren’t shopping in the mall, but were local townsfolk and, gasp, employees.

Warwood’s company at the time set up an enforcement program and cleaned out the garage, but this also caused a myriad of complaints, which were sent to the mall owner, who of course wanted to have his cake and eat it, too.

Warwood’s solution was to charge for parking in the mall and set the rate structure so that a combination of time and validations could make it easy, cheap or free for customers to park, but slap on such a penalty that poachers would find somewhere else to park.

In the case cited, I believe that time was the limiting factor. So, going in, people assumed that parking was free and when they were cited for staying too long, they felt slighted. However, if a rate structure were in place so they knew going in that parking was not free but was for the use of the mall’s customers, and not everyone in the city, the reaction might have been slightly different.

However, Westfield in Australia has had a huge PR problem when it began charging at one of its malls near a train station. The locals were parking at the mall, taking the train to the central city all day, and filling Westfield’s parking, making it impossible for actual shoppers to find a space.

When Westfield put in a rate structure, not only did the folks who were poaching complain, but so did the surrounding businesses as the poachers now moved out on the streets and took space for those customers. This argument has gone up to the state, level, with politicians getting involved and considering telling a private company (Westfield) what it can do with its property.

Somewhere, I guess in the Magna Carta, is a provision that parking must be free. Sigh. JVH

‘I Get a Kick Out of …’ PDX

Posted Oct. 5, 2012, by JVH

I’m traveling this week and flew into Portland (OR) International Airport (PDX).  I was pleasantly surprised. This small second-tier airport is stunning.  It’s easy navigate, quiet and unhurried. I have braved the crowds at Heathrow, JFK, Atlanta, O’Hare and LAX. Portland is quiet.  Don’t get me wrong — there were people there.  The line at security had a couple of hundred people in front of me.  But it went quickly.

As I sat in a waiting area that reminded me of an airline’s first-class lounge (comfortable seats, plug-in for your computers, and free Wi-Fi that actually worked), I considered what was different. My musing was interrupted by a piano player holding forth with classic hits from great artists of the ’50s and ’60s, especially from the “Chairman of the Board.”

 Wow, what next? Comfortable waiting areas, entertainment, free Wi-Fi – and then it began. A lounge singer, with Sinatra’s best,  “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

I turned to get a better view and realized that the singer, John English, was singing to a young man who was swaying silently beside him.  The young man was smiling quietly as John softly repeated Sinatra’s words. “I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all …

A picture of the moment is here:

John told me that the young man was his son, Barry — and when he has gigs on a Wednesday or Thursday, when Barry visits him, he brings him along.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house – and this was at 10 a.m. in an airport.

I then realized what was different at PDX.  It was attitude. Everyone who worked at the airport seemed trained to help me. Even the TSA was helpful and smiling. My curmudgeon was put in its place. 

Plus, there were no screaming unnecessary announcements. You know the ones that tell you that TSA is going to slap you in irons if you have an ounce of mouthwash or that you shouldn’t leave baggage unattended. 

Portland seems to have figured out that travelers have common sense. That we made it this far, we can make it all the way. Well done, Portland.  Your larger brethren could learn from your example.

Or maybe it’s just that people in the Northwest are nice. Even the cop who gave me a speeding ticket four miles from the airport was polite.

I almost thanked him – almost. JVH

Curmudgeon Alert — Time to Whine About Emails Again

Posted Sept. 26, 2012, by JVH

My quarterly screed about emails is upon you. I invite your comments.



1. Forwarded emails. OK, I really don’t despise forwarded emails. Cute kittens and beautiful BBC scenes of Mother Earth make a welcome break from the political diatribes we are getting now. However, for goodness’ sake, take a moment to clean them up.

I received a forwarded missive this morning and I had to scroll through two pages of someone else’s email addresses and headings before I got to the meat of the article. (I have had personal problems with addresses attached to such emails suddenly becoming public knowledge and the embarrassment it can cause.)  Just a few seconds and you can remove all that clutter. Plus, be sure to use the “bcc” (blind carbon copy) address line — that way, each recipient will see only his or her own email address, and no one else’s.

One more thing — for some reason, I take offense at the line at the bottom of many such emails that instruct you to forward this to 20 of your dearest friends or your taxes will be audited or whatever. I will decide whether or not the content is worthy of forwarding, and find such instructions impertinent. So there!  I remove those requests whenever I forward email.

Also, a lot of embarrassment can be avoided if you run the email content (“Abraham Lincoln believed in vampires,” for instance) through www.snopes.com. It’s sometimes a bit dodgy, but on balance, they debunk most Internet legends and let you know whether the information you are forwarding is at least a tad valid.



2. Email signatures – Computers have enabled us to put automatic signatures at the bottom of emails. They are like letterheads with title, contact information and links to websites and the such. And they serve a great purpose. However, you can also add the “sincerely” or “best wishes” or “all the best” line automatically. I think that, too, is impertinent. Particularly when you are sending emails within a company.

If I put‘ “all the best” at the end of an email and send 30 to the same person each day, do you really think that they think I mean “all the best” to them? They know I say all the best to everyone, so it has no meaning.

I have a correspondent who signs her emails with “warmly.”  I felt really great about it until I found she signed all her emails “warmly.” Now I almost resent it.

Then there’s “thanx and have a nice day.”  Its cutesy and comes close to “how are you?”  — one of  those greetings that we all say that have no meaning and everyone knows we really don’t want to know how you are.

Wouldn’t it be better if people had their contact information put at the end of each email and then personalized the “closing” to each one they send?

If they are forwarding an office memo, maybe there is no need for a closing at all. But if they are sending a message to a business acquaintance, maybe something more personal, like “Say ‘hi’ to Martha” or “Keep cool” to that person in Tucson, or “Happy New Year” to a Jew this time of year, might just take out some if the built-in impersonality of the Internet.

Just sayin’ …

All the best, and send this to 20 of your dearest friends or else!!!

JVH

 

Article Abstract from November, 2012




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