devices. Customer support facilities, onsite parking, where people are less likely to pay by cash.
information signage and legal orders are all Brian Parker, regional manager for Britannia, says: “The biggest
necessities, while operators may also choose benefit is at hotels and train stations; anywhere that involves a long-
to stage a trial or produce marketing material. term stay. We found that drivers who want to park overnight for two
However, pay-on-foot – the common or three days make the most use out of paying by mobile phone.
payment method in private shopping centre Having rolled out RingGo across all car parks that we operate on behalf
car parks – is seen as expensive to install and run. of Travelodge, long-stay parking definitely seems to work best.”
Shoppers collect a ticket from the barrier on the way in, There is also the matter of cost to the shopper. Pay-by-phone
pay at a machine using the ticket when they return to the companies put a service charge of 10p or 20p on top of the parking
car park, and insert it into the exit barrier to leave. With all fee. Although the charge is only small, it could deter customers from
this machinery at various exits, not to mention maintenance and using the system if they are only parking for a short while.
staffing, it’s no surprise that the costs add up.
So why is this method so popular with shopping centres?
“Councils have the money to enforce parking methods like
pay and display or pay-by-phone. But private shopping centres “Phone payments will be the
can’t afford regular patrols and don’t have the power that local
authorities have to collect the most economical way for
money once a fine has been
issued,” Tyreman explains.
operators to go”
Despite the fact that costs
are significantly higher, private
shopping centres car parks are As Snelson explains, “RingGo works best in sites where motorists
sticking with pay-on-foot to avoid park regularly and ticket prices are either relatively high (over £1)
the issue of enforcement. Car or require lots of coinage – for example an 85p payment requires a
parks run by larger operators or minimum of four coins.
local authorities are still far more “Higher prices per hour reduce the relative significance of the 20p
likely to adopt pay-by-phone convenience charge, but most customers recognise the benefits of
methods. paying by phone and by credit card so don’t mind paying a little extra.
But Tyreman is looking to the We have several sites which charge relatively low hourly rates which
future. “If this little hurdle can be are successful.”
overcome, for example by hiring And shoppers are likely to park longer than an hour if they stop
a private contractor to enforce for lunch or want to spend time browsing. Analysis of Eldon Square
pay-by-phone, then shopping and Eldon Garden, which typically see short to medium length stays,
centres will discover just how showed that shoppers using the pay-by-phone system were parking
cost-effective paying by mobile for around three hours.
can be.” While operators can benefit from introducing pay-by-phone
And in some cases, the issue alongside pay and display, this is not necessarily the case with private
of enforcement is outweighed operators who run barrier car parks. Pay and display tends to limit
by other benefits. Army & Navy, users to cash payments, so pay-by-phone works as a good alternative
a mixed-use scheme on the as it allows people to pay by a different method.
edge of Chelmsford town centre, However, pay-on-foot offers both cash and card payment through
installed pay-by-phone in its the pay stations, so Tyreman and Snelson concede that integrating
privately-run car park. Shoppers pay-by-phone in these locations is not as strong an argument.
and hotel guests both make use of the car park, as the scheme But there are some cases of operators integrating the two. Earlier
houses a Travelodge alongside retail units. this year, West Berkshire Council added pay-by-phone to five car
According to Snelson, Army & Navy implemented RingGo’s parks in Newbury which already ran pay-on-foot systems. Councillor
system because it allows more distinction between long-stay and Emma Webster at Transport for West Berkshire says that offering
short-stay parkers. Travelodge reserves 20 spaces in the car park and both payment methods makes parking easier and more attractive,
offers guests discounted rates to park in these spots. But shoppers, thereby enticing more people to the area.
who only will only stay for a few hours, have to pay full rates. RingGo “We want to offer the motorist as much choice as possible in the
allows the hotel guests to enter a code when they pay for parking, ways that they can pay to park,” says Cllr Webster.
which gives them the discount. “The introduction of the flexible Verrus service across all of our
“There’s a joint benefit to the shops and the hotel, because their car parks including the pay on foot locations gives the motorist
customers can use the car park together without any hassle. Hotel another choice in how they can pay and will hopefully make
guests can get their discount easily and they can park anywhere they parking in West Berkshire easier and more attractive in the current
like within the car park once they have paid over the phone,” says financial climate.”
National car park operator Britannia Parking runs RingGo’s phone Find out more:
payment system in several locations, including Travelodge car parks. For more information, please contact the author or visit the website:
Britannia is not currently operating pay-by-phone in shoppers’ car
parks because it found that the system works best for long-stay
SEPTEMBER 2009 SHOPPING CENTRE
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