Focus on Tickets/Tags/Permits - That's the Ticket!Ticket printing is one of the last things a busy parking manager wants to worry about. But whether it is ticket printing for dailies or decals or tags for monthlies, the responsibility of bidding and choosing a ticket vendor is an important part of your job.
Tom Nelson, editor of Parking Today's sister publication Campus Safety Journal, recently spent a few minutes with Tom Carter, vice president of sales and marketing at Toledo Ticket, to find out about ticket printing technology and for tips on selecting a ticket printer that will effectively meet a parking operator's needs. The focus of their conversation was on-campus applications, but the theories remain the same.
CSJ: What are the main campus applications that require ticket printing?
Carter: Parking on campus is a big one. Colleges are using everything from bar codes to magnetic-stripe access tickets for garages as well as valet tickets or hand tickets. Hang tags, hang-tag access cards and window stickers are also big on the parking side.
On the security side, there are access cards that provide an additional safety component because they can contain holographic images, which prevent them from being duplicated. Also, bar codes can be masked so that they cannot be duplicated. A mask does not allow the bar code to be copied on a copy machine and then read by the bar code reader. When it is photocopied, a masked bar code will come out as a black bar.
Also available is custom-manufactured security paper, which is mill-made paper that contains a watermark. The watermark is pressed into the paper so that it shows up on both sides. If the watermark safety stock were to be photocopied, it would be obvious because there would not be a true registration of the logo on back and front.
CSJ: It would seem that college campuses -- where students and others have access to high-tech equipment -- possess a lot of potential for ticket counterfeiting and the like.
Carter: It is certainly getting more difficult to prevent with all of the reasonably priced computers and printers out there that make easy duplications. But some of the things I mentioned before -- bar-code masking, watermark safety stock, holographic images -- can be applied to everything from a paper ticket to an access card. In fact, holographic images can be custom made in any shape with any image on the actual mirrored portion. It is extremely difficult to copy. It is a big deal for event tickets and especially for parking tickets.
Proxcards -- which contain a computer chip within the card -- are another good, relatively new security option since they cannot be duplicated.
CSJ: What other things should people be aware of when it comes to ticket printing?
Carter: The largest part of our business with colleges and universities is athletic parking. One thing that companies like ours are doing to help colleges increase revenues is using our own advertising division to connect advertisers with universities. That way, major international advertisers can advertise on the back of the ticket, which has two main benefits:
1. It becomes harder to duplicate.
2. It brings added revenue to the college or university.
With that program, the advertiser pays for the tickets. So the university is given the tickets for free and gets a portion of the revenue from the advertising.
CSJ: What about comparing ticket vendors?
Carter: There are several important things. For parking, it is important that the vendor keeps up on their authorizations. By authorizations, I mean that the vendor is authorized to manufacture tickets for different types and brands of parking equipment.
A good vendor offers a full range of industry-related items. Not just tickets, but access cards, stickers, decals, hang tags, forms, envelopes and the like.
An important thing to look for in any supplier is one that is always looking for ways to save the customer money. If the ticket supplier knows the operation, then suggestions can be made on how to save money. Some of us are now offering online ordering to place and track ordering, including layout and design of tickets.
A vendor that has numerous other clients of a similar type knows what technology is out there and knows what other colleges and universities are doing with their tickets and can make suggestions as well as offer customization that can meet the customer's needs.
A long history in the industry is certainly a must, as well as a company that supports the organizations that colleges and universities belong to. No one should trust their ticket printing to a fly-by-night operation.
Tom Carter is vice president of sales and marketing at Toledo Ticket. He can be reached at (800) 533-6620 or email@example.com.