Valet parking trends have come and gone over the years as the industry landscape and consumer needs have changed. Some trends become industry standards, while others have been driven off the lot.
When talking about valet parking trends though, one word seems to dominate the conversation — technology. As technology advances in all areas of commerce, so it does in the valet parking industry. Valet parking companies in Atlanta are adopting new systematized ways to park and retrieve cars that result in shorter wait times for customers, and ultimately, a better operation at the valet stand.
The Age of Ticketless Valet
One constant through the years has been the classic valet parking claim ticket. This very basic item is the glue that keeps every valet operation running at full speed, until now. Ticketless valet not only has been tested and approved by the valet companies, but also by customers using the new technology.
“Ticketless valet systems have been a game-changer for our valet parking division in recent years,” says Jacob Menard, National Parking’s Chief Technical Officer. “They streamline the entire process on the lot and ultimately for the consumer.”
However, there are a number of different technological solutions to implement ticketless parking. Here are four of the main technological trends that valet parking companies are using:
Valet Tech Trend #1: Player Cards
Player cards are similar to hotel room keys, and they’re sometimes integrated into the points and incentives cards used by premier hotels and casinos. A chip in the card is synced to the valet system, linking the car with the driver.
When the card, tucked inside the driver’s purse or wallet, comes into proximity to the valet management system, a notification is sent to the valet stand. The car is retrieved before the customer has to ask for his car, resulting in virtually zero wait times and smooth valet operations. Of course, this system has its flaws — if a customer ventures too near to the valet stand (possibly while stepping outside to use the phone or smoke a cigarette), then the card will notify the valet to pull the car around before the customer actually is prepared to leave.
Valet Tech Trend #2: VIP Window Stickers
VIP window stickers go on your windshield, and they’re not unlike the ones used by apartments and office buildings around the country. These stickers contain an RFID chip, and the valet simply scans the windshield when you pull up to the stand.
This makes for a much shorter hand-off between the customer and the valet. “Unto themselves, though, these RFID window stickers don’t reduce retrieval times in any meaningful way,” adds Menard.
Valet Tech Trend #3: Valet Parking Smartphone Apps
The valet parking app is another trend that many parking companies are starting to adopt. When a customer anticipates exiting the venue, he pulls up the app and taps the icon indicating he’s ready to get his car. The valet stand receives word of this and pulls the customer’s car up, having it ready to go when the customer is.
“The downside of this technology is that adoption rates tend to be very low,” says Menard. “Not unlike QR codes, which were all the rage a few short years ago, it turns out that consumers don’t like downloading niche smartphone apps that they’re only going to use occasionally. Those are always the first to go when you run out of space on your phone.”
Valet Tech Trend #4: SMS Valet
At National Parking, we stay at the forefront of valet parking trends and we’re currently in the process of rolling out a new ticketless technology called SMS valet. Pioneered by a Dallas-based tech company called TEZ, this system does not require the customer to download an app or keep up with a card or ticket.
Rather, the customer gives the valet their phone number upon arrival and receives a text message with a live link. “When they prepare to leave the establishment, they simply request their vehicle through the link,” explains Menard. “Viola! The valet attendant is notified to retrieve the customer’s car, allowing it to be ready for the customer with virtually no wait time.”
Seamless Parking Experiences for the Atlanta Consumer
With all the technological advances in recent decades, it’s no surprise that such trends are bringing the valet parking industry ever closer to the ultimate goal — creating seamless parking experiences for the customer.
Valet parking companies in Atlanta have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to valet parking trends that work, and National Parking prides itself on remaining cutting edge when it comes to parking technology. Our commitment keeps us at the vanguard of trending technology in the industry, and it distinguishes us as a leader among the valet parking companies in Atlanta.
Jay Horton is the President of National Parking. He put himself through school valet parking cars. As a born entrepreneur, he saw the opportunity to build on this simple idea. Since becoming President, Horton has helped National Parking grow to service more than a million vehicles per year. Connect with him on Linkedin.