Riyaz and his parking operations team from ValetEZ manage parking at one of the largest malls in Kerala. They along with several ValetEZ parking teams in different cities are part of the ValetEZ parking operations team that works closely in integrating new age digital technology in parking operations management, during normal times. But then, these are not normal times! Covid-19 has disrupted the operations of most businesses and parking has had its share of impact.
The parking operations team at ValetEZ handles integrated tech and operations management of parking sites at multiple locations. These men and women (pre-Covid, women formed 30% of parking personnel at ValetEZ) ensure smooth functioning of our parking systems at Entry and Exit, provide assistance to visitors, ensure security of vehicles, and troubleshoot on ground when there are issues. And in a real time operations business like parking which needs to function at a near 100% efficiency, there are always issues. We spoke with Riyaz and his team to understand how they are coping with the impact of the Covid-19 and the role that technology has played in helping them manage their operations.
What are the challenges in handling a mall parking operation?
A big challenge in Mall parking is that parking demand from Friday to Sunday just goes up 2-3 times over the weekdays. This can result in long queues to get into the property. At the same time, we have to manage not just the Mall visitors but also tenants, staff and vendor vehicles. They have to be identified and we have separate parking arrangements and charges for them. All this has to be managed in real time. Another challenge in a large property like ours is to manage parking revenue collections and undertake reconciliation, ensuring that every Rupee is accounted for. We do reconciliation on a daily, weekly and on a monthly basis.
How has Covid-19 impacted the parking operations?
Covid-19 has definitely had a strong impact on visitors to Malls and hence the parking lots. During the lockdown period, everything was closed but since the opening, we have had to make special arrangements for visitors to the parking area. Safety and hygiene have become very important and all staff wear masks, gloves and face shields to protect them as well as visitors. To reduce risk of indoor transmission, we have also focused on outdoor parking lots in the premises as against basement parking.
How has technology helped manage parking during this current time?
Using our ParkEZ technology solution has made operations easier to manage in terms of tracking of bookings, ease of revenue management and identification and tracking of incidents in the parking. Because of the dynamic pricing options, the property has the option of modifying its charges in real time and during different time periods if they want to give parking related price benefits to the mall visitors. Contactless solutions like QR code based check-ins and NFC contactless subscriptions, along with digital payment options allow us to undertake ticketing and payments with less close interaction. This provides an option for visitors who wish to take precautions and maintain social distance while continuing with smooth parking operations.
Where do you see parking going forward?
Covid-19 will take some time to get resolved so we have to work with this changed normal. More people have started visiting the Mall in the last couple of months and the Mall property managers have also made arrangements to improve safety and give confidence to visitors. Definitely, Covid-19 has taught us the uncertainty that can happen in our daily work. It is also a learning to manage the team and ensure that we are able to motivate and handle challenging situations. Digital parking tech systems have a significant role in managing parking operations. The ability to add new features and provide the mall client with flexibility in pricing and occupancy along with the contactless parking solutions will be useful well after Covid-19 is gone.