Last year, we held a panel to predict parking predictions for 2020. And like the rest of the world, we had absolutely no idea what was coming. 2020 was an unpredictable year, to say the least, one that threw conventional wisdom and reliable approaches out the window.

So, that leaves the big question: what’s next for parking in 2021? In our latest webinar, we brought in a panel of experts to discuss the lessons learned from 2020 and to talk about parking’s future. Jeff Perkins, CMO and Head of Product at ParkMobile led the conversation with a panel including:

  • Josh Kavanagh, CAPP and Director of Transportation at University of California San Diego
  • Dillon Fried, CAPP and Assistant Parking Systems Manager at the City of Minneapolis
  • David Hoyt, SVP Sales at ParkMobile

Here were the top 3 takeaways and predictions:

Flexibility Will Continue to Be Important

In early 2020, the pandemic emerged and cities across the country suddenly went into lockdown. Cities and parking operators everywhere were forced to think on their feet to adapt and stay safe.

For Josh, that meant a rapid shift from physical permits to more flexible daily parking options as students stayed home. As a parking systems manager for a large city, Dillon needed to react quickly to changing business restrictions and requirements.

Despite positive steps to combat the pandemic, there’s still a lot of uncertainty heading into 2021. The pandemic has also shown that no two cities, campuses, or event venues will change in the same way. Instead of one-size-fits-all solutions, an individualized, flexible approach is going to be needed moving forward. David talked frequently about the need to be open to embracing an ever-evolving, almost day-to-day mindset.

Mobile parking and digital solutions were an essential piece of the puzzle, allowing parking operators to change tactics and roll out new systems in just weeks or even days. Both Josh and Dillon noted that having a mobile payment vendor in place was crucial for staying ahead of the curve and maintaining some revenue.

It’s Time to Shake Up Our Current Parking Models

COVID restrictions forced many people to rethink their once-reliable parking strategies. Virtually overnight, monthly revenue from long-term parking permits and parking structures disappeared as more businesses and schools went remote.

Many companies plan to keep at least some form of remote work capability past the pandemic. Consumers will be less inclined to pay for monthly parking and shift towards a “pay as you go” model. Additionally, while COVID didn’t create the demand for contactless payment options, it certainly accelerated it.

Both point to a need for new, innovative payment strategies that maximize the value of short-term parking without being a burden on customers. Additionally, as reliable revenue from long-term parking goes down, we need to do more to engage with customers and streamline processes.

The “New Normal” Will Outlast The Pandemic

In the early days of the pandemic, many of us were in the mindset of adapting to the “new normal”. Of course, that was with the assumption that “new normal” would eventually turn back into the pre-pandemic normal.

As time marches on, it’s clear that “normal” is moving in a different direction and many of these temporary measures and cultural shifts are here to stay for the long haul. All of the panelists mentioned contactless payments and remote work as trends that were likely to continue.

But that shouldn’t sound alarmist, or even like a bad thing. Change also opens the door for opportunities. Josh was candid in how the pandemic allowed him to accelerate a move to a modern, digital system. Dillon was equally as enthusiastic about the future, saying that the weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic are exactly the areas ripe for new ideas and innovation.

To phrase it another way: the best defense against an uncertain future is a good offense. By embracing a flexible digital payment model, it gives parking operators more options to adapt to a rapidly evolving situation in the future.

As we learned last year, it’s time to expect the unexpected. No matter what the future holds, ParkMobile will continue to partner with our clients to innovate and meet new challenges as they arise. To watch the full webinar on-demand, click here.