Off-Airport Parking Rebounds To Surpass Pre-9/11/2001 Levels
August, 2004The off-airport parking industry has recovered from 9/11. At many major airports, parking revenues are exceeding 2001 sales.
"We are finally out of the woods and enjoying the growth increases we saw in the late '90s and pre-9/11," said Peter Carrea Jr., owner of Winner Airport Parking in Philadelphia.
"After 20 years in the off-airport parking business, I opened a new lot during the downturn of 2002, and now my business is bursting at the seams," said Al Pasley, owner of Sky Harbor Airport Parking in Phoenix.
AirportParkingReservations.com, the first online airport parking Web site, debuted in January of 2001 and enjoyed instant success by listing most major airports in the U.S. However, after 9/11, off-airport parking suffered the same severe and rapid declines as most sectors of the travel industry.
While business travel is still a bit sluggish, the void is being filled by leisure travelers discovering too many online travel bargains to stay home. The leisure traveler continues to migrate to off-airport parking because, in many cases, it's less expensive than the on-airport parking lots and garages and offers more amenities, including valet parking, car-care service and luggage assistance.
"We've grown from offering 45 parking lots in 2001 to over 140 lots today, including Canada and the UK," Tom Lombardi, founder of the online reservations company. "We're a significant source of new business for the off-airport parking industry, and it's no secret that many of these customers are switching from on-airport parking lots -- many of which raised their rates to compensate for a decrease in parking revenue following 9/11. And now that travel is rebounding, holidays and long weekends cause a strain on available parking spaces, making a guaranteed airport parking reservation advisable and, at some airports, mandatory."
Guy Piccolo, owner of Executive Valet Parking at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT, and a founding partner in AirportParkingReservations.com, has moved 80% of his advertising dollars to the Internet.
"When we first launched AirportParkingReservations.com, my expectations of attracting new customers to my lot were modest," Piccolo said. "Today, 33% of my business is generated online, and 80% of my new customers find us through the Internet. We're successful because travelers want the certainty of a guaranteed parking space at a discounted rate."
Many travel publications predicted a strong summer for leisure air travel, and the online reservations company ramped up to handle the projected deluge of summer travelers.
"A few parking lots in major airport markets have implemented blackouts for peak summer travel weekends and the autumn holidays, but we continue to rapidly add new lots to meet the demand," said Robert Bielecki, the company's Vice President of Operations.
Tom Lombardi can be reached at T.Lombardi@AirportParkingReservations.com