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Point of View

Melbourne, Phoenix and Dubai; Trade Shows; and Our ‘New Baby’

JVH

I heard from a friend in Melbourne, Australia, that the city is installing a system of pay-by-cellphone. In addition to embracing the program completely, the city government is sweetening the deal by telling the citizenry that they will receive a text on their phone when they are nearing the time limit they paid for. They can either “top up” the meter from their phone or go move their car.

The mayor has acknowledged that the program will cost the city upwards of a million a year in lost citation revenue, but he said the goal was to make the city more responsive to parkers, not penalize them.

Wow! What a refreshing approach. When city after city is trying to find ways to stick it to their constituents to raise money, hearing someone actually planning to make it easier for parkers not to get citations is stunning.

My contact tells me that promotions like this, led by a very popular mayor, has brought thousands of Aussies into the pay-by-cell fold and enabled the city to expand the program throughout its suburbs.  A nice spinoff has been that with so many people paying by cell, they don’t need as many pay-and-display machines, so they are reallocating them to areas that have planned to add pay parking without having to buy new machines. He expects that 20% more spaces can be handled by each machine.

Melbourne has a number of areas where angle parking is in the middle of the street. You park, and then have to hike to a P&D machine, then return to your car, all the while dodging traffic.  By making these areas pay-by-cell only, the city is increasing the safety of its parkers, another benefit of the system.

No wonder Melbourne has been named the most livable city on the planet.

Joining a number of other cities such as Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Phoenix has decided to jump on the Shoupista bandwagon and institute demand-based pricing.  It essentially raises prices during peak hours and when special events (sports, theaters, etc.) take place.  Fair enough.

However, when one reads the Phoenix Business Journal article, which I found on Parknews.biz, I wasn’t too surprised. The only reason for the change was to help the city meet a budget shortfall. The change joins water bill hikes to increase the lucre in the city’s coffers.

There was not one word about how the new pricing may make more parking available, or how new meters will make it easier for the motorists to pay.  Not a syllable about protecting the resource that is parking, nor how the monies may help the city build infrastructure.

There was certainly nothing about cutting expenses in the Phoenix government. But then, politicians assume that their constituents know they are working hard to save every penny. Right.

 As I was looking through Parknews.biz recently, an interesting ArabianBusiness.com article caught my eye. It was datelined Dubai:

A locally made device will help Dubai Police crack down on illegal parking in the emirate. The new device is fitted with a sensor, a video, a still camera, 3G Internet and a warning device that will combine to issue fines to those who park illegally in disabled parking spaces.

The monitoring device, created by Dubai Police, will be installed at every disabled parking place in Dubai by the end of the year.

Each device will monitor one parking space. When a vehicle enters the space, the sensor detects it and starts beeping for 20 seconds. If the vehicle is still there after that time, the device takes a picture and checks with the police database, via the 3G, [as to whether] there is a valid parking permit for  disabled parking. If there is no permit, a fine is automatically issued. ...

Not too shabby. However, I’m sure the development wasn’t cheap and putting one in each space could also be costly, but then, if you are mega rich and money means little, it can work.

I don’t know if you understand what it costs to exhibit at shows such as the IPI, NPA and PIE, but it’s a lot. Let me give you some scale:

For our PT booth – the real estate – what we pay the IPI, is about $3,000. I don’t begrudge them a penny. I know what putting on these events cost. 

But that’s only the beginning. 

Then we have $2,000 for inbound shipping (from the loading dock to our booth) and two chairs, a table and the carpet.  Then add about $1,500 for the display.

But we aren’t finished yet. 

We bring three people at a cost of $1,000 each for airfare, hotels and per diem. That’s $11,000 for about 11 hours of show time. (Yes, $1,000 an hour.) And we are small potatoes.

Consider one of the big revenue-control companies with the two-story booths covering 1,200 square feet. They bring 20 to 30 personnel, and the cost to get their booth from the loading dock exceeds the budget of some small countries. I’ve seen show budgets that exceed $200,000.

These numbers boggle the mind.  My question is whether they actually get value received.

I’m told that the investment is often in current customers. The huge booth and after-parties give companies a chance to meet existing customers and thank them for their business. Fair enough – as long as you know that’s what you are doing.

I sometimes wonder, however, if a visit, every couple of years, by a CEO accompanied by the local salesperson, with a nice dinner where issues could be discussed, might do more. But then what do I know?

These are successful companies, investing their profits where they feel it will do the most good. More power to them. It does mean that the parking industry is beginning to mature. It can mount a trade event that rivals the big shows in Vegas and Europe. That means something, I guess.

It seems to me that there must be a happy medium between doing nothing and spending upward of a quarter of a million on a trade show. I guess I don’t know what that is.

It appears we at PT have a hit on our hands. The buzz at the IPI conference and expo in June in Texas was that our new Parknews.biz website is a winner.

We were walking about the trade show with business cards with the URL, and people were saying, “Yes, I saw the ‘new baby’ promo and love the new site.  Great parking news, every day.”

And considering that at the time it had been up only two weeks, and we were getting upwards of 750 views a week already, our baby is growing fast. 

I’m certainly impressed.

If you have news releases, new products, links to articles you think would be good for the Parknews.biz site, send them in.  We are really easy to work with.

We daily post about 15 to 20 new links to current parking-related news. Keep up with your industry. Visit www.parknews.biz every day. Give our “new baby” a test drive.  We think you will like it.

Article Abstract from August, 2014




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