On June 22 and August 23 we had the pleasure of bringing together some very interesting panellists in Quebec City and Montreal for two presentations on commercial parking lot management, at a time when the workplace is being dramatically transformed. These discussions allowed us to learn more about how property managers and parking lot operators can (and must) adapt to the new realities in order to respond to user needs.
The panellists were Marc Lamontagne, general manager of Indigo, Bruno Godin, general manager of Société Parc-Auto du Québec, and Sam Hamad, senior vice-president at Globatech and president of Logic Control and CT. TECH.
Éric Deblois, general manager -- Rentals at Beneva, was the moderator for both meetings. I was able to speak with him, and am presenting here a brief summary of his observations for the benefit of those unable to attend those events.
Linda Plante (L.P.): Given the ongoing changes in building occupancy, parking management methods have had to evolve considerably in recent years. What are the main points that emerged from your discussions?
Éric Deblois (É. D.): I would say that the watchword now is FLEXIBILITY. Teleworking has had a major impact on parking management on a monthly basis. Workers won’t pay a monthly fee for a space they now use only a few times a week Parking lot managers must therefore adapt and incorporate a more flexible, client-friendly rental pattern that offer rates per day, or for 2-3 days or for a full week, in order to respond to this new demand. They must continue to make their parking spaces profitable. Variable pricing based on the number of visitors on a daily basis is also becoming a possibility. It means that they can diversify their offer, making it more attractive to more users.
L.P. How can you optimize the management of parking spaces available on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
É. D. New systems are emerging to facilitate this. Our discussions underscored the importance of upgrading existing systems to meet current needs. Otherwise, parking management becomes more cumbersome. New online tracking and reservation systems will also help optimize use of parking spaces, to better manage peaks and avoid overflow. These systems are already making headway. Parking lot operators have no choice but to adjust.
L.P. Are there other avenues to ensure the development and maximization of this important source of revenue for property managers?
É. D. Some are indeed emerging and deserve our attention. I'm thinking in particular of a new digital platform dedicated to the rental and management of parking lots. Its purpose is to simplify parking for motorists and to generate revenue for parking lot owners. The application is a sort of Airbnb for parking where you have, on the one hand, lot managers and, on the other hand, users looking for a parking space for short-term use.
We are also witnessing the diversification of functionalities, such as intelligent lockers or adding a parcel pickup area for people waiting for packages. Some parking lots are even used for film shoots on occasion.
L.P. What is your opinion regarding electric charging stations, giventhe current context of hybrid work?
É. D. This new trend is becoming increasingly important. Their installation, operation, accessibility and upgrading must be planned for on an ongoing basis. New locator and reservation platforms will allow users to identify and reserve parking spaces equipped with charging stations. More and more of these applications will emerge, and lot owners and managers must plan for the integration of these technologies, for motorists will demand them.
Charging stations of the future will also incorporate more bi-directional systems. Bidirectional charging from a vehicle to a building is still under development. The system will allow energy stored in cars to be sent back to the building. The energy produced helps reduce peak consumption, and thus also reduces the building’s energy costs.
Business rules for energy sharing will be defined in the pricing guidelines of the charging station management software. This could mean, for example, a reduction in the parking rate or a discount on a future charge.
In short, this is only the beginning. As in all spheres of commercial real estate, parking lot owners, managers and operators must be proactive, continuously improving the system as they adapt to a changing context. They must also demonstrate flexibility, openness and creativity in order to continue to make this important source of revenue profitable.
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A number of inspiring BOMA Quebec get-togethers and events will take place in the coming months. Consult our website (boma-quebec.org) on a regular basis for more details. We also encourage you to participate in the discussion.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all an excellent fall season.