Why Buy Tickets When You Can Get Them for Free?
October, 2003The recent economic downturn has had a profound effect on all types of businesses. The parking industry is no exception. As clients tighten their belts, parking companies are faced with closing businesses, increasing costs from leases, higher overhead and fewer parking customers. For operators, there exists a need not only to hold your own in the marketplace, but to take advantage of every opportunity for potential new sources of revenue and savings.
Unearthing a hidden asset
In Los Angeles, Valet Parking Service was also feeling the pinch. "It's been a tougher market for the past few years," said Victor Morad, President of VPS, the oldest valet parking service in the nation. "Post September 11, 2001, hotels and restaurants were hit particularly hard in that fewer patrons meant less revenue for all. In the meantime, expenses continued to increase."
Faced with the same issues that many parking companies are dealing with in these uncertain times, Morad had to look beyond traditional solutions. He decided to explore alternative means of raising additional revenue, while trying to cut costs and add value to his clientele's parking experience. Morad and VPS discovered and capitalized on a hidden opportunity within its own organization: to utilize its current locations, personnel and methods to distribute advertising as a by-product of its normal operations, saving substantial printing costs in the process.
The concept is what one might call a no-brainer. Parking companies are supplied with free, full-color parking tickets that contain advertisements in exchange for simply using them during the normal course of business. The tickets function exactly like valet and machine-issue tickets, and are even customized with their logo and disclaimer information. The process is very straightforward. A simple non-disclosure of all information exchanged (primarily a listing of parking venues, monthly volumes and ticket types) is signed by the ticket supplier, as well as an agreement between both parties allowing the company to send the parking operator free tickets as the company "sells" the parking "inventory" (locations) to advertisers.
All advertisers are pre-approved by the parking company, and sensitive data are never revealed to anyone other than potential advertisers. Interested advertisers receive only location lists in the "aggregate," meaning only venue names and addresses are shown. No parking company names or other information is provided with such a list. An advertising client "purchases" the available inventory based on the types and locations of venues for a specified length of time.
Since beginning the program two years ago, Valet Parking Service has participated in 14 free-ticket advertising programs: from Sony Pictures to Las Vegas Tourism to Lexus. These programs amounted to a total of over two million free tickets, translating into tens of thousands of dollars saved on printing. "Ticket printing is one of my largest expenses," said Morad. "It's nice to see a drastic reduction in those costs."
Not Just Valet Tickets
The program provides a wide variety of advertising opportunities. SBC and Allstate Insurance have signed on in more than two dozen different markets to advertise not just on valet and hand-issue tickets, but on garage machine-issued tickets as well. More than 300 parking companies ranging from small local ones to the largest in the world, Central Parking System, have seen tremendous benefit in the reduction of overhead since contracting with this type of program.
When Upswing Inc. launched the product in 1998, President Chris Gilliam discovered a one-to-one advertising opportunity in a very large and relatively untapped market. The business has sparked the interest of advertisers around the country. The client list includes DreamWorks, SBC, Miller Brewing, Lexus, Allstate, Sony Pictures, Fox Searchlight, DirecTV, Comcast, Lifetime Television, MGM and Jiffy Lube.
"Parking is the second-largest cash industry in the country," Gilliam said. "It's a dynamic, professional industry that's perfect for reaching consumers in a setting where they are required to hold onto the ad. Plus, it's a great fit for just about any type of advertiser, especially those looking to reach people personally and directly. Our focus now is to keep executing successful programs for our advertisers, and to continue to bring value and savings to our parking company partners' bottom line."
The Toledo Ticket Co. prints tickets for Upswing, which
markets under the name Adverticket. For more information,
log on to www.adverticket.com.