By Mark Williams and Bob Linehart | 3.5 min. read
It’s time to debunk an airport parking myth. Contrary to what airport facility managers may assume, valet parking isn’t just a parking initiative. It’s isn’t simply a customer service add-on, either.
In fact, valet parking can act as an in-terminal revenue generator.
Surprised? You needn’t be. Though integrating an outdoor service with in-terminal revenue may seem illogical, there are four perfectly rational reasons to link the two.
1. Valet Parking Increases Dwell Time
Providing a valet service that offers curbside drop-off removes a considerable time commitment from your customers’ travel itinerary. Passengers no longer need to navigate the parking lot, pay for parking (depending on your current operating plan), or travel to the terminal entrance on foot. This self-park process can easily range from a few minutes to twenty, depending on the size of your facility.
Eliminating this substantial time commitment for your customers increases their in-terminal dwell time. That’s longer to browse your retail and duty-free, buy last-minute (not-so) essentials, and enjoy a delectable dining experience courtesy of your F&B offering.
2. Valet Parking Changes Passengers’ Mindsets
Airports with valet service bear the brunt of a mundane task so passengers don’t have to. This allows your guests to get into “vacation mode” as soon as they arrive at the airport (and long before they reach the beach).
And what do over 40% of us do when in the throes of vacation mode? Spend, spend, and (over)spend, according to CNBC.
The benefit of helping passengers adopt the vacation mindset at the valet stand may not be limited to in-terminal spending, either. Arrivals zones are often abuzz with stress, anxiety, and anticipation — emotions that aren’t conducive to positive feedback, constructive staff-passengers interactions, or consumer loyalty.
Here, valet staff have a unique opportunity. They are often the only airport representatives who connect with passengers before they enter the terminal. As a result, they can create a positive first impression that reduces passengers’ susceptibility to the noise of the in-terminal experience — and may make them less likely to keep tabs on their budget.
3. Valet Parking Improves Customer Satisfaction
An airport’s most satisfied passengers are twice as likely to shop, according to airport advisory firm DKMA. And though passengers can’t buy happiness, they can buy time — something recent research suggests could be close enough. Working adults feel happier after spending money on time-saving purchases than they do after making material purchases, according to a National Academy of Sciences paper.
Airport valet parking is the epitome of a time-saving purchase. It’s a seamless and purposeful service in a highly time-sensitive environment. Moreover, valet service offers experiential perks that other popular time-saving airport purchases cannot: prestige, exclusivity, and white-glove standards.
You can maximize passenger satisfaction from the valet stand by offering simple, low-cost comforts like beverages, newspapers, and mints. Value-adds, like car washes and detail service, also help keep satisfaction sky-high while adding to your non-aeronautical revenue.
4. Valet Attendants Can Be Concierges, Too
Valet parking attendants (if well recruited, trained, and managed) play a dual role: trusted car parker and valued concierge.
To facilitate this, your valet attendants should routinely attend tours of your site. Tours help employees to familiarize themselves with your ever-evolving airport. Consequently, they can offer more accurate directions, provide more persuasive retail and F&B recommendations, and deliver more comprehensive customer service.
Your valet attendants can even incorporate concierge-like knowledge in their greeting to encourage in-terminal spending. For example:
“Welcome to [X] airport. Thank you for including us in your travel plans today. If you’re hungry, can I suggest trying [Y] restaurant?”
Airports are tasked with encouraging a captive audience to spend on retail and F&B — a challenge much harder than it may seem. However, starting passengers’ travel experiences with a professionally managed valet service can help.
Impark has developed valet parking programs for airports across the U.S. and Canada. From small municipal airports and corporate flight centers to large metropolitan hubs and international airports, we proudly deliver the same sky-high standard of service to every client across the continent. Now, discover how we can help you. Get in touch today.
Mark Williams is a Director of Strategic Accounts at Impark. Email him at email@example.com.
Bob Linehart is Executive Vice President, Airport Services, at Republic Parking. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.