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[Webinar] Easy Payments: Using Apps to Secure Reservations, Process Payments, & More

Our CEO, Ethan Glass, recently had the opportunity to co-lead a National Parking Association webinar with Katherine Beaty, EVP of Customer Experience @ TEZ Technology, on the topic of parking payments.

Together, Ethan and Katherine unpacked:

  • The pros and cons of modern parking payment options: QR codes, LPR, mobile apps, digital wallets, in-car payments, and more
  • Which parking payment management tools are on the market today
  • How operators can exploit these payment methods to drive revenue & gain market share
  • The data infrastructure required to effectively manage multiple payment methods

The webinar has a two-pronged approach, focusing first on the parking customer’s journey (how they prefer to transact for parking and what that experience looks like).

The second half covered the operational challenges of offering multiple payment methods and how parking operators can manage the complexities of a diverse payments ecosystem.

Find some highlights below and watch the webinar recording here!

Presentation Highlights: Tier One

QR codes have become “a part of our culture” in parking due to being cost-effective, contactless, and something that customers are accustomed to using in other contexts.

  • QR codes are also versatile and can be used to deliver information or collect data, and engagement is generally trackable.
  • Because QR codes can easily be re-routed, there is high potential for fraud. As a result, QR code payment processing must be thoroughly encrypted, which may require more complex infrastructure or third-party partners.

Text-to-pay doesn’t require an app, which is convenient for customers, and the barrier to entry is lower as most customers have some comfort level with texting.

  • Text-to-pay also gives parking operators the ability to communicate with the customer by sending notifications directly to their phones (ex. letting them know when their parking period is about to end and giving them the option to extend).
  • However, text-to-pay has multiple dependencies, including the reliability of mobile networks and the user’s mobile proficiency.
  • It’s important to consider that text-to-pay incurs a cost for users without unlimited plans.

License plate recognition (LPR) for payment processing is especially useful in large surface lots with high volumes of customers.

  • In the context of payments, LPR can pick up on payment methods tied to license plates and relay that information to the PARCS or whatever technology the operator is using to process payments.
  • The downsides of LPR for payment processing is that implementing this technology can be complicated and costly, and its functionality is limited to registered vehicles.
  • Additionally, some customers are uncomfortable with LPR payments because they’re either resistant to change, don’t understand how it works, or feel uneasy with how they perceive their data is being collected and used.

Mobile apps appeal to frequent customers who want to redeem loyalty rewards, save their preferred payment methods, and manage their reservation remotely.

  • Another customer segment that mobile apps capture is the person who prefers to find and book parking ahead of time.
  • Mobile apps collect customer data and surface behavioral trends and enable re-marketing. They can also can send promotions as well as notifications related to the customer’s session.
  • Personal information collected by mobile apps must be tokenized and securely stored in order to meet PCI compliance standards.

Apple Pay & Google Pay (and other digital wallets) are highly secure transactional methods as payment details for multiple cards and accounts are all encrypted within one device.

  • Customers generally carry their phones with them, making digital wallets a convenient option, but despite this, not all customers are fluent in how to use this functionality.

In-car payments are an emerging payment method which involves using the car’s in-dash operating system (OS) as a digital wallet.

  • Using BlueTooth and geofencing technologies based on the customer’s point of interest, the in-dash OS can serve up parking options to the customer.
  • Connected vehicles can then “spark with” an outfitted lot, allowing the lot to talk to the vehicle and process a quick payment with the method that the customer has on file.
  • Not all vehicles have in-dash operating systems, and transacting with an in-dash operating system is not yet a widely adopted consumer behavior.
  • In areas with communication or network challenges, it may be necessary to invest in expensive equipment like radio antennas to boost signals sufficiently.

Presentation Highlights: Tier Two

  • All of these payment methods are part of a larger, always-evolving ecosystem. Operators should not limit themselves to using just one, nor does it always make sense to incorporate every option.
  • What is comes down to is understanding consumer behavior and integrating the essential payment methods for accommodating the majority of customers in order to gain a competitive edge and increase revenue.
  • In many cases, lack of familiarity with the technology breeds suspicion and an unwillingness to adopt. Education is the hurdle, and operators should enlist their technology and equipment providers to maximize customer adoption through signage, notifications, communications, etc.
  • When connectivity or network issues are a hurdle, operators can reach out to internet and cell service providers in their area in order to better understand where the liabilities are and how to address them.
  • The #1 key to rapidly growing revenue is to capture consumer demand where it exists.

    Millions of customers use online parking marketplaces (or “aggregators”) to find, book, and pay for parking in areas where it’s in high demand or hard to find. Tapping these channels lets operators broaden the funnel and broadcast their locations without a million-dollar marketing budget.
  • Managing multiple payment methods is not easy.

    Fragmentation makes simple tasks complex. Unconnected technologies lead to severe data silos. Reactive adjustments to the market do not create higher-quality outcomes.
  • Operators can optimize yield by leveraging multiple payment methods and consumer demand channels to offer customers the ability to transact in the way(s) they prefer.

    Offering a diversity of payment methods and listing inventory on third-party apps that customers like to use to find and pay for parking gives operators a competitive edge, creates repeat customers, and diversifies their revenue streams.

Questions? Thoughts? Reach out to ethan@getocra.com to continue the convo!


Request a custom demo.