Solving parking headaches at coastal destinations

As the UK begins to reopen in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign travel is still restricted. While many will want to jet off to warmer climes, restrictions, budgets, and safety concerns are expected to keep many people on home shores.

Abersoch Golf Club car park on the coastline
Abersoch Golf Club car park on the coastline

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Despite the famously changeable nature of the UK’s weather, tourist hubs are undoubtedly set for an influx of visitors and customers whether they’re ready or not – great news for the hard-hit economy, less so for already strained parking facilities.

 

As locations reopen and lockdown restrictions ease, we run the risk of seeing a return to scenes such as last summer when beauty spots and coastal attractions struggled to deal with the huge disruptions caused by parking facilities rapidly reaching, and often exceeding, capacity.

 

Loch Lomond was just one hard-hit location, where nearby routes had to be closed for two days running due to large numbers of cars parked dangerously. In other instances, local communities are bearing the brunt of limited parking that overflows onto their land. Not only can this create space availability issues for residents but could also cause further congestion in the area.

 

Thanks to technology such as ANPR, there are now several unobtrusive options to help put you back in the driving seat and support your site not only with dealing with the return of the public this year but beyond 2021.

Regaining control

ANPR solutions provide reliable and effective parking management so you can keep track of who enters and exits your site, payments made, and power a range of cashless payment solutions that boost both revenues and convenience on your car park. The technology allows landowners and site managers to monitor the duration of stay too, guard against overnight parking, for instance (unless authorised), or people staying for hours to visit a nearby location. The system does all the hard work, ensuring motorists intending to use your site’s facilities can enter seamlessly whilst deterring non-genuine customers.

 

The issue of non-genuine visitors

Many sites experience problems with non-genuine customers using their parking facilities, leaving legitimate visitors and customers to look elsewhere to park their vehicles meanwhile others enjoy the space at your expense – literally, if you charge for parking. The frustration experienced by the customer is equal only to the dismay felt by the business and tourist attraction at large, who are losing custom because of this domino effect. If you’re one of these businesses feeling the pain, you’re not alone.

This was a major issue faced by Wye Valley Visitor Centre. A thriving tourist spot since 1981, the Visitor Centre boasts attractions such as the ‘Amazing Hedge Puzzle’, a butterfly zoo, miniature golf, and a laser tag battleground alongside a café and outdoor picnic area. However, non-customers took advantage of the tourist hubs’ available parking, dramatically reducing spaces for loyal customers.

Over one bank holiday, a staggering 50% of vehicles in their car park belonged to people not visiting Wye Valley. While the management team at the Visitor Centre were keen to ensure they didn’t affect genuine customers’ experience; they knew they had to tackle their issues with parking abuse to protect both the reputation of the centre and hard-earned revenue.

Through training and the introduction of ANPR cameras we were able to enforce the rules on site and caused that 50% of unauthorised vehicles drop to just 15% the following year.

 

For added reassurance, terminals can be installed to validate genuine visitors as an ‘authorised’ customer. Fully customisable to your site, any motorists not using your facilities that fail to register will be identified and could receive a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) to deter future abuse. Even better, your business can say goodbye to the all-too-common customer complaints and time-stealing admin often associated with trying to manage car park abuse on your own.

 

If you have an attendant already trying to juggle parking on-site, we can help support them too. Handheld devices can be provided, allowing Parking Charge Notices to be issued to anyone contravening the rules – our highly efficient back office will take care of the rest.

Sites dealing with spikes in visitor numbers

In some instances, there may be a lower capacity than genuine customer demand, which is exacerbated by increases in visitors – say over a bank holiday weekend. Many landowners aren’t 100% aware of who’s using the site or exactly where their busier periods are throughout the day/week, but ANPR can help. Data can demonstrate visitor levels and power a traffic light system, showing green when a site still has a comfortable amount of space, amber once it nears full-capacity and red to signal an overloaded site that requires immediate action.

Further support can take several forms – once the site is full and management is alerted, attendants can be mobilised to turn traffic away or help direct cars to suitable parking spots nearby. Another option is to analyse ANPR data to determine a ‘max stay’ schedule where time is limited at your busiest peaks to ensure spaces are turning over effectively – anyone not adhering could be issued with a PCN as a deterrent. You may also consider a barrier that simply states that the site is full while being prevented from raising to prevent vehicles from entering until capacity has become free.

 

Improved payment solutions

After travelling long distances to get to their destination, holidaymakers want nothing more than to be able to park their car with minimal fuss and get on with their break. So, what can tourist hubs such as seaside towns and coastal villages do to implement a parking process that will help people get their holidays off to the perfect start? Convenience plays a crucial part in ensuring maximum parking payments but also enhancing and streamlining the customer experience.

ANPR can support a site with a range of cashless solutions. Pre-booking allows them to reserve space in advance, ideal for trip planning. Motorists simply search for a space, book, and pay for their parking beforehand – this helps to remove the stress from a trip but also allows businesses to gauge upcoming capacity on their sites.

Autopay allows motorists to register their vehicle with a car park and then have the cost of parking charged automatically when they leave. This removes any stresses around stay duration and ANPR ensures they are charged accurately. This streamlined customer journey allows visitors to simply enjoy being on holiday or at an attraction without those background worries about parking and stay duration limiting their trip.

Our Pay-by-Mobile solution does away with on-site kiosks and terminals, instead placing  parking payments directly in the motorist’s hand. As a nation, we are seldom without our mobile phones and this service allows motorists to use an app or website to manage their parking, including the ability to extend their stay without returning to their vehicle. People who don’t have a smartphone can still use the service via SMS or IVR.

Cashless solutions provide increased speed, convenience, and security. By making paying for parking faster and more convenient, it’s possible to improve space turnover, reduce queues and alleviate congestion on a site, perfect for improving traffic flow and ease pressure on local communities near popular attractions. As it’s entirely touchless, and a facility which can be done from the comfort of a car, it’s also 100% COVID safe and perfect for disabled users too.

The right strategy

You may need to consider several services – maybe enforcement, alongside payment solutions. Abersoch Golf Club sits on the Cambrian Coast with stretches of beach and incredible views of Snowdon – the area is a popular destination. As a result, the two car parks attached to the site would suffer frequent abuse from beachgoers. This made parking difficult for its club members and restricted access to the course. Utilising an attendant for their paid parking caused issues with consistency and reliability, seriously hampering their ability to generate revenue.

By modernising their solutions, through the introduction of new payment machines and ANPR cameras, we were able to transform the site, dramatically reducing abuse across their parking facilities and causing a 20% increase in parking revenue.

No matter which application works best for your business, ANPR technology can give you back control of your site, accurately identify those not adhering to your rules, and help you monetise this often-overlooked asset to recover losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

You can even use your parking to drive extra footfall, such as offering the ability to redeem the cost of parking in a restaurant or provide discounted entry to attractions. This can be a difference maker with more of the public looking to travel internally as opposed to heading abroad.

 

Adopting a better strategy will:

  • Encourage positive parking behaviours
  • Automate the management of your car park
  • Provide a better visitor/customer experience
  • Boost payment revenues
  • Enable touchless payments
  • Reduce complaints
  • Protect your community

 

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