Parking — The Same as the Rest of Commerce Works

Quickpay’s irrepressible Barney Pell was interviewed in “Fast Company.”  You can read the interview here. We have an interview with him in the December issue of PT, due out next month.

Amongst other things, Barney is talking about changing parking so its priced like hotel rooms or airline seats. Pay more for convenience, location, and service.  And why not? He described what happened when BART in San Francisco decided to charge more for certain spaces:

 There’s a parking lot in Oakland near a BART station. Early in the morning, BART workers had been taking all the spots closest to the entrance and staying all day long, until evening time. All the other people coming and going weren’t getting to park in those spaces. The lot operator realized that QuickPay offered a new opportunity, and they gave the best spots premium QuickPay stations. It was great for them–they made a lot more money that way–and it was great for consumers, because you could pay a bit more for a better space. It wasn’t so great for BART workers, but they were okay, because they could pay low rates.

I was going to ask about that. It seems like you’re creating stratification, a class system even in parking lots.

It’s the same as stratification in hotels and in airlines. Stratification benefits everybody, because you can charge more for premium things, and you can also hit the lower end and lower prices there.

So the lavishness of the upper class subsidizes the cheapness of my class.

Exactly. Same as the rest of commerce works.

Have you ever considered that?  There are stratas in everything we buy, whether its cell phones, flat screen TV’s, perfume, clothing, or whatever.  Some pay a lot for a particular brand or type of service, and that allows the market to adjust and price other items lower so all can enjoy similar, but not necessarily the same, products. Think Costco.

Why not parking — Provide ‘specials’ focused at existing customers, use “groupon” to attract new customers, provide services like coffee, water, car washes, dry cleaners, and the like. But charge more for those services, and charge more in the lots that offer them.

Let’s face it, I will pay a premium to park in a clean, well lit, convenient, easy to pay, garage than in a dark, dirty, location down the block. Others, however might not. A valid choice.

We see the tip of this iceberg already. Some lots charge less to park on the roof where its hot (or cold) others charge premium pricing for valet services and the ability to have your car available to you without waiting.

Barney would say that once you have the infrastructure in place, the sky is the limit.

The same as the rest of commerce works.


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