Partnership for the Community
Technology has so proliferated the parking industry that it would be easy to lose sight of the true value that parking technologies offer. They aren’t shiny toys designed to merely delight patrons and make parking easier (though many of them certainly do these things). Rather, they are powerful tools that can transform the parking experience—and the parking management experience—in ways that provide extraordinary benefits to parkers, parking owners, and the wider community itself.
How can we become the best partner possible for our customers, and how can we help them make the most of our partnership?
Just as we need to rethink how we look at parking technology as a community resource, municipalities, private owners and operators, and institutions with parking assets should also rethink how they view the companies that provide those technologies. Do you want just to work with vendors? Or do you want partners who can make the technology journey with you, constantly at your side?
This is a question that I spend a lot of time thinking about. How can we become the best partner possible for our customers, and how can we help them make the most of our partnership? It’s why, in 2021, PayByPhone is focusing on promoting community, not just in the cities where our app is available, but in areas we haven’t yet entered.
Perhaps our relationship with the City of Miami best exemplifies this partnership approach. PayByPhone has been available to Miami parkers since 2008, when it became the first major U.S. city to accept mobile payments for parking. Since then, usage has grown from 100,000 transactions per year to well over a million, with a remarkable 95 percent adoption rate.
Why has this relationship been so successful? According to Alejandra Argudin, CEO of the Miami Parking Authority (MPA), it’s “the result of our strong belief in the shared value of partnership. Our collaboration has driven innovation and made a positive impact on our business and the community we serve.”
That impact on the community has been a key to the success of the Miami program, and it drives everything that we do together. Our job is to help improve the quality of life for Miami residents, support local businesses, and make it easier and more enjoyable to visit the city. Innovation has been a key to making that happen.
For instance, we implemented a discount program through which Miami residents receive a 20 percent discount on parking when they use the app. In addition to increasing adoption of the app, this policy provides a tangible benefit to city residents, which should be an important element of any urban planning initiative.
Sometimes, that spirit of giving to residents extends beyond a discount. Last May, as Miami was preparing to reopen after its initial Covid-19 shutdown, the city decided to rely on the PayByPhone app to foster a safe and healthy reopening for drivers. To that end, the MPA offered an hour of free on-street parking to drivers who paid for parking with the PayByPhone app. The idea was to encourage people to visit downtown areas in a safe manner, and safety was promoted by encouraging the use of private phones to pay for parking in a contactless manner. At a time when it was essential to minimize the risk of passing the virus via shared touchpoints, contactless mobile payment offered a much safer alternative.
Mapping a Partnership
This partnership has extended beyond facilitating the payment transaction to finding new ways to support the community. One important initiative was the campaign to support Miami restaurants leading up to the holiday season, beginning in November. The campaign, called “We are where you dine,” gave PayByPhone customers a chance to win a $50 gift card. Around 90 PayByPhone customers were randomly selected as winners over the five-week campaign.
The campaign was created to encourage customers to support the local restaurant industry, which had been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. It included highly targeted messages across social and digital media platforms; outreach to local food bloggers, other influencers, and industry leaders; and direct engagement with local businesses, economic development leaders, and grassroots organizations.
The “We are where you dine” program was one of several initiatives that MPA has sponsored to support the Miami community throughout the pandemic. Others included setting aside parking spaces for restaurant pickup and delivery, parklets for al fresco dining, and the Welcome Back, Miami campaign, which gave out over $500,000 in in-kind parking fees.
Of course, not all of the programming designed to benefit the community was in reaction to the Covid-19 crisis. Some were designed more widely, to improve the quality of life in the city.
To that end, we recently launched maps functionality in the PayByPhone app. With PayByPhone Maps, drivers in Miami can enable location services on their smartphones and see where available parking can be found throughout the city. The maps are interactive, allowing users to determine the hours of parking operations, any restrictions that may be in place in certain parking areas, and accepted payment methods for different parking locations throughout the city. In addition to using the app to quickly locate an available parking space, motorists can use it to better control their parking plans prior to setting out. This is the first step towards launching Miami as a Smart City.
As MPA’s Argudin said, “Our partnership with PayByPhone helps residents and visitors easily find and pay for parking from their mobile devices and makes it more convenient to explore all parts of the city.”
Build a Partnership
So, in 2021, rather than just buying new technologies, partner with technology companies that will stand by your side to help you reimagine the ways that you serve your constituencies. With the right partners, cities can transform their communities, institutions can turn parking into an even more valuable campus resource, and private owners can serve their tenants and customers better than ever before.
Roamy Valera is the CEO of PayByPhone. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.