How to elevate the guest experience with parking management

From the moment hotel guests arrive, they expect welcoming and stress-free experiences. That journey starts with parking. Since parking operations typically serve as the first and last touch point, it anchors the guest experience.

Consistently delivering exceptional parking is not without challenges. Today’s hotel parking operations often face staffing shortages, efficiency issues and revenue control problems. Many also trail in utilizing technology, using older systems that require manual input, lack interconnectivity and deliver poor analytics.

Let’s look at some opportunities where hotels can enhance the parking experience, offer unique services, and differentiate their brand—all while increasing efficiency and optimizing revenue.

Embrace Technology

Guests who are returning to travel in the post-pandemic era are now expecting greater conveniences and new services. It is becoming increasingly important for the industry to embrace new solutions. Innovative hotels have responded by upgrading their properties and offering new features and amenities such as contactless services to promote health and safety, seamless parking experiences and EV charging.

Recent parking technology advancements—such as mobile parking apps, online reservations and payments, automated parking systems, smart parking sensors, and parking management software—are redefining parking as we know it. A robust, smart parking platform enables guests to easily locate parking spaces, reserve them in advance and pay with their mobile phones for a frictionless experience. These systems can also seamlessly connect with a hotel’s front desk to help guests and employees spend less time and energy on parking.

With the right technology infrastructure in place, hotels can add new, more personalized services like guest loyalty programs, automatic billing to the guest’s folio or a single reservation for the entire hotel ecosystem. An EV charging infrastructure also offers a valuable amenity for overnight guests or special event attendees. Chargers can be monetized though different payment models or variables to generate new revenue streams and offset installation and maintenance costs.

Implementing these types of systems often requires months of planning, new operational standards and technical expertise. A partner with proven experience in hardware, software, energy, and financing can help speed your property's path toward digital transformation.

Level-Up Your Valet Service

Valet parking has the potential to become a very profitable part of your hotel’s operations. 

High-end, professional service is critical for guests' need to feel confident handing their keys over to a stranger and leaving their vehicles behind. Trust is the number one consideration for anyone hiring or using a valet service. Vetting and training are the cornerstones of any successful valet program.

To begin with, a thorough vetting process with standardized protocols must be established. Background checks with deep insight into the candidate’s driving history is essential—specifically license status, DUIs and moving violations with motor vehicle records. This process should be conducted not only during the hiring process, but also throughout the employee’s tenure. A frequent vetting protocol ensures a safe experience for customers and lessens liability claims and losses for the hotel. It is also important to remember that certain skills can be trained, while others cannot. You can’t really teach courtesy and attitude.

A comprehensive training program should include soft skills (manners, greetings and cultural etiquette) along with conflict resolution and problem solving. The more comprehensive, the better! For instance, include specific examples of how to deal with angry or intoxicated customers and dealing with emergencies.

A hotel’s valet parking policies and procedures should also be as detailed as possible, including standard guest arrival and departure procedures, safety and security, and claims management in addition to current valet parking laws based on municipality. The proliferation of exotic car models (Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati, Tesla and the like) brings an entire new level of liability. Getting into the driver's seat of these technically complex and powerful cars for the first time can be intimidating. A gentle press on the gas pedal or slip of the clutch of a Lamborghini can send them surging forward. Therefore, exotic car policies and training on these vehicles is highly recommended. In fact, the Valet Spot has launched a new resource section offering instructions on how to operate various high-end rides.

Notably, valet training should not be a "one and done" session. It should be ongoing and updated at least annually, and all staff should be re-certified.

Attract and Retain the Best Talent

The hospitality industry is currently facing fierce competition in attracting and retaining qualified staff to keep up with the demand of post-pandemic travel. Burnout and turnover can have a significant impact on both service quality and guest satisfaction. Consequently, many hotels are offering more attractive compensation packages, flexible schedules and more comprehensive benefits. Yet, many find this is not enough to get qualified workers to sign on and stay on.

Meanwhile, these enhanced benefits come at a cost. Striking a balance between financial considerations, employee well-being and guest satisfaction can become a difficult balancing act. One way to overcome this is to find a partner that has the resources and expertise to find highly qualified team members to provide customized staffing solutions of highly trained and vetted hospitality professionals.

Finding the Right Partner

When outsourcing for hospitality, there are some best practices to ensure a seamless relationship between your in-house team and outsourced workers to ensure hospitality excellence. These include:

  • The ability to quickly and seamlessly become a part of your hotel’s culture and team.
  • A proven set of best practices and standard operational procedures specifically developed for hotel facilities.
  • Ongoing training to improve both technical and soft skills.
  • Prioritizing employee well-being to improve retention.
  • Regular analysis of internal and external rating services to determine solutions to ongoing guest problems, while predicting future guest needs.

A single facility services partner that offers multiple services, advanced technology solutions and skilled staffing can streamline operations and minimize the number of vendors and middlemen you need to manage.

Al Pineda is vice president of operations for ABM.