We came across an interesting article which explores the pre-booked parking phenomenon and why it is commonplace in the UK – accounting for around 20% of airport parking – but almost non-existent around the rest of the world.
The article’s author, Chris Wortley, asserts that the practice came about from two factors: high prices at airport parking locations and a consumer belief that these prices were too high. Enter a range of competitive players, opening ‘off airport’ car parks at reduced rates. As these competitors had no visibility, hey had to advertise online and in doing so started to take bookings online. Airports started to see their car parking revenue fall and to compete had to introduce their own pre-booking solution.
Online aggregator services (think Webjet) also saw an opportunity and moved to become the one-stop shop for ‘off airport’ car parks – further increasing competition and eroding airport’s parking revenue.
Should operators and airports in Australia be concerned? It seems so, with the UK consolidator sites beginning to spread their reach to Germany and the US as they become part of the online travel booking process, bundling together flights, parking, insurance, car rental and VIP business lounge services all into the one transaction.
It’s certainly an interesting model and may require airports to consider a different way of doing business. Time will tell when and how it rolls out in Australia, but at least there is interesting data and case history available from UK services and operators to draw from.