Putting the Party in Parking
by Melissa Bean Sterzick
Creating a new marketplace isn’t easy, but somebody has to do it. Taylor Bond had already run several successful businesses when he and partner Jason Kapica started Park-n-Party, a Michigan-based company that provides online parking and tailgating reservations and full-service parking concierge for large sporting events.
The two approach event parking with a goal to make parking part of the fun of going to a big game, not just an unknown factor.
Bond and Kapica contract with parking operators to manage events and reservations. They created a software program that takes reservations and tracks them for each location. Customers access the system at parknparty.com or can call directly to speak with a representative about their plans.
“When it comes to parking with big-time college football or other events,” Bond said, “there isn’t anybody that people feel they can call to answer their questions: Where’s the best lot? Where can I go for dinner? ... People who are going to these events want to have a good time and they don’t want to think about parking.”
Bond said his company brings a lot of value to operators, because their spots are filled and they aren’t out searching for parkers on game day. Its system lets them offer standard, premium or VIP parking, and helps organize large groups for tailgating and other activities.
“We do a lot of event planning and corporate placements,” Bond said. “It’s worked out great for the lot owners. They pick up a lot of revenue, because we are able to fill their lots ahead of time.
“Parking is an industry that offers many opportunities to make the customer experience better and at the same time provide greater revenue for owners.
“The whole concept of a reservation has a lot of value,” he added. “Our lot owners get 100% of their fee. We make our money off our convenience fee – we don’t take a commission. We’ve created a marketplace. We’re bringing buyers and sellers together and creating a benefit for both of them.”
Brian Stange is General Manager of the Ann Arbor (MI) Golf and Outing Club, the company’s largest client to date. Notre Dame football and basketball games have been a big part of that collaboration.
He said that working with Park-n-Party has increased club revenue by 20%.
“They do a great job,” Stange said. “It’s pretty easy. I tell them how many spots are available and they put us online. Their model works, and they are always looking to improve. It’s a great idea – I wish I’d thought of it myself.”
In January, Bond and Kapica turned their focus to the 2014 National Hockey League Winter Classic held at the University of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Park-n-Party filled its more than 3,000 reservations within hours. Parking spaces went for $90 to $10, depending on proximity to the venue and tailgating opportunities.
“It was a tremendous event,” Bond said. “We worked with the NHL directly and that brought people right to us, so that was very helpful for their fans. ... With an event like that, you learn a lot about what your systems can do, and we learned a lot. Now we get to incorporate all that learning into updates of our system.”
During the lull before college basketball’s “March Madness,” Bond and Kapica streamlined their website, looked for new lot owners to bring into their circle, and searched for additional events where Park-n-Party would be profitable.
The company operates in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin – for now – and has started to offer parking reservations for other events, including fairs and festivals.
“We’re looking to expand. We definitely bring a considerable value to event organizers, to lot owners, and to fans and attendees,” Bond said. “We want to make things easier and faster for our customers at purchase and check, in and make sure our website is more accessible from a mobile perspective.”
Bond said one reason he founded Park-n-Party was that he wanted to work at something he would enjoy. College sports, tailgating parties, and helping people get the most out of their game-day plans has been more than enjoyable.
“Part of a great experience is minimizing the frustrations people stress out about over parking,” Bond said. “I’m excited about this. We want to do more. We want to see it grow. It’s a tremendous opportunity for parking owners and fans.”
Contact Melissa Bean Sterzick, a Parking Today staff writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Abstract from April, 2014