International Parking & Mobility Institute

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Innovation & Technology

Directable Parking Demand

Figure 1: Parking bookable in all major U.S. navigation apps in 2024.

Images Courtesy of Flash Parking.

ROI Impacts for Developers

In the ever-changing commercial real estate climate, one thing remains a priority for all developers: return on investment (ROI). When considering a new build or the repurposing of an existing facility, owners and developers must assess the financial burden of constructing the building and consider the ongoing operational costs. Advances in parking technology, changing consumer behavior, and a pursuit of improved consumer experience have flipped parking from a logistical requirement into a dependable source of revenue.

Commercial assets typically generate revenue from rent charged to tenants with fixed lease agreements. However, parking revenue can fluctuate from week to week. It’s driven by supply, convenience, and accessibility. To really maximize the ROI potential in parking, the spaces need to be turned over frequently and effectively. This allows the property to charge an hourly parking rate at or above a competitive market value. So, how do you get the most parkers into your building? Previously, properties relied on signage, a loyalty program app, or outsourcing to a third-party management company.

Figure 2: Smart Phone Navigation Apps with Parking Reservations.

This year, a game changer emerged: the full integration of parking within navigation apps like Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps. The days of “accidental parking” or driving around looking for parking are coming to an end. Today, drivers program their destination, select from the recommended parking options, book, and navigate directly, entering with digital credentials. With these directable demand technologies, owners and operators can ensure their garages generate the most revenue by enabling parkers to find and utilize their facilities with less friction and difficulty.

“Waze is expanding its parking features to offer detailed information about parking garages, including cost, coverage, accessibility, valet options, and the availability of EV charging stations… Users will also be able to reserve parking spaces directly through the app.” Mashable

In 1990, Mazda was the first automobile manufacturer to integrate a navigation system into its vehicle’s dashboard. As recently as a decade ago, only high-end cars had in-dash navigation units. Today, navigation is a standard vehicle feature, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrated straight into vehicle dashboards. Beyond the vehicle’s dashboard, smartphones with integrated maps and navigation have firmly established their dominance in the U.S. driving market.

The convenience provided by smartphones is undeniable, and when a parker can drive with peace of mind that a parking spot will be available for them on arrival—everyone wins. Therefore, customer experience becomes part of the design so operators and investors can market and leverage it. For the parkers who already know the area, being able to reserve parking from their navigation app impacts their decision. Parker’s previous knowledge of the area is then altered if they know of a new parking location that meets their needs—your garage.

“Driver behaviors are shifting, and our efforts in recent years to embed reservable parking and charging experiences with leading apps and platforms anticipated that shift,” said Dan Roarty, Chief Digital Officer at Flash. “Parking asset owners and operators meet drivers in the apps and sites where they plan their travel and usher in the end of circling blocks, wasting time and fuel in the search for parking.”

Properties that are interested in the directable demand ecosystem should also consider the need to control the physical access to parking. Nothing will spoil a driver’s experience more than driving to their destination only to find another parker has taken their space. Reservations are challenging to enforce in ungated facilities because offenders have no immediate consequences. Parking offenders in ungated facilities receive a fee days later in the mail. By that point, the damage had already been done to the person who had reserved the parking spot. Gated facilities offer more control for all parties involved. Guests who reserve a space in advance through directable demand partners can leverage a QR code to gain access to the location.

A positive driving experience will lead to a repeat customer, which will boost the revenues and investments of the asset owners. ◆

Implementation Manager | 

John Quackenbush, PMP, is an Implementation Manager for FLASH New Construction and a member of IPMI’s Planning, Design, & Construction Committee.

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