ACE’s Two Decade History with PHX
It Takes a Team
When you enter Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport from the east, the first thing you see is a gigantic building. On the outside are huge silo-like structures that dominate the scene. Signage directs you to entrances in the ‘silos’ and you find yourself in a 6,800-car parking structure. The ‘silos’ are speed ramps that enable you to quickly access any floor; signage tells you where parking is available.
As Shane Henning, Ace Parking’s General Manager for the airport, drives you around the complex, you begin to realize that this is a parking-centric airport. Each of the two terminals has integral parking bringing the total available public space to 20,000 spaces at the airport.
Henning and his 100-plus staff keep the parking operation running smoothly looking after exit lanes, valet operations within the structures, and general maintenance of the 62 entry and exit lanes throughout the facility.
Craig Doyle is the Parking Services and Rental Car Center Superintendent for Sky Harbor. “The airport sees the parking operator as part of our team that keeps service levels high and promotes customer satisfaction. Having an operator on board frees us to think strategically rather than operationally.”
When asked what the operator brings to the party, Henning notes that the important factors are cost efficiency, knowledge of the technology used at the parking operation, and legacy knowledge bringing experience from decades of running airport and other parking operations throughout the country.
“An operator like Ace has resources outside the airport. If for instance, we have an employee who is sick, we can slot someone in from another site who is already knowledgeable of parking operations. This has been extremely important during the stressful times created by the pandemic. Running with a reduced staff and still keeping to service levels is difficult. Having nearby operations as backup has been extremely helpful.”
Henning had to think long and hard when asked about his biggest problem at Sky Harbor. “We have been able to mitigate most issues early on and don’t have any real ‘problems’ per se. I will say that technology can be a double-edged sword. It brings huge benefits to both the operations and to the customers. However, some customers find any tech difficult to deal with and we have to be prepared with staff to step in and assist when needed.”
“Our goal,” adds Doyle, “is to ensure the highest level of customer service and through that service to keep customers, particularly frequent business travelers, coming back. We want to ensure that our customers see us as the most convenient way to park at the airport.
“Parking is an extremely important part of the airport’s revenue stream. The monies generated by parking is second only to landing fees.”
As Henning continued his tour of the parking structures, he listed the areas that Ace brought to Sky Harbor. “First and foremost, we manage and grow this extremely important business. To do that we have to excel at customer service and ensure the customer experience is world class.
“We offer many features such as web-based reservations and promote them through our in-house public relations department. We must build and retain customer value.”
As we continued our tour, Henning pointed out valet operations in the structures where parkers can drop off and pick up their cars near elevators and near access to the airport’s sky train. Other amenities include car washes and oil changes. The PHX Sky Train connects travelers between the terminals, economy parking facilities and valley metro light rail.
Ace recently had it contract renewed with Sky Harbor for up to 10 years. It has been operating the airport since 2000.