Leisure sector grows to £117 billion as UK consumers prefer pleasure to shopping *

Even more surprisingly, this sector is growing nearly twice as fast as the retail sector*.
Good news for all those gyms, trampoline parks and football clubs but not so much for facilities personnel trying to solve the parking conundrum!

We already support a diverse mix of businesses who operate under the sports and leisure banner, from swimming pools and golf clubs to racecourses and spas, yet no two are the same in terms of how they manage their car park estate. Some sites are really suffering from unauthorised users, leaving limited space for genuine customers who then raise a complaint or worse become the abusers of nearby sites (= grumpy neighbours), others need to monetise their facilities so they can reinvest parking revenue to generate growth.

Football clubs can face a number of challenges, not least the complexity in the types of visitors they welcome through their gates.These sites need to cater for staff, match day drop-offs, supporters, conference delegates and even contract parkers. For instance, employee volume will be low and fairly constant day-to-day – easily managed using a permit system (free or chargeable). However, being able to effectively manage the huge spike in volume on match-days is critical in ensuring the football experience isn’t marred by frustrated motorists. Creating a ‘free-flow’ environment with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) allows users to simply drive in/out seamlessly and bypassing potential delays such as barriers. Designated areas for short-stay drop-offs or even ‘immunity windows’ which exempt supporters from payment altogether are options to be considered. Alternatively, genuine supporters may be offered a maximum free-stay with charges applied to those looking to park at the club but go into town or jump on the train.

But what about non-match days? During these periods, volumes will plummet leaving the club with lots of unfilled space and effectively a wasted asset. If the club’s location is near a city centre, business park, train station or other location which sees high demand for parking, contract parking such as Glyde Spaces is a perfect solution, solving a parking headache for the local community and creating a new margin rich revenue stream for the club. Win win.

Conversely, golf clubs are often out of town but may still be open to abuse. If either the clubhouse or course itself is situated near a tourist area, a beach for instance, there may not be enough available parking for genuine players. As any golfer will understand, teeing off frustrated usually doesn’t bode well. Existing car parks may have no parking rules at all, could employ a manned attendant prompting security concerns and reliability issues, or still feature a barrier system demanding ongoing maintenance and attention. Other golf clubs welcome high value clients, famous even, requiring a strict arrival/exit protocol with terminals in the clubhouse to register vehicle details and ensure a slick transfer time from car park to course.

The rise in trampoline parks has also been sharp, with numerous sites popping up across the UK, rather than just being the staple of the local fair. But how to manage the parking? Customers could be offered free parking for a limited time after which they are required to extend their parking using either on-site payment kiosks or register with in-arena terminals. If parking is limited, you may wish to enforce your site rules to ensure that anyone not registered as a genuine customer will be picked up by the ANPR system and issued with a parking charge.

Let’s look at casinos – we work with some of the largest in the country. Many take a blend of solutions to capitalise on sites often busiest in the evening. For instance, offering daytime pre-paid long-stay contract parking might be ideal when casino goers are low whereas local shoppers will be looking for short-stay pay-on-exit or cloud-based pre-booking services. Anyone not listed as having a permit (staff), being a genuine customer or identified as having otherwise paid will be issued with a parking charge as a deterrent to ongoing abuse and if in time behaviours change, this element could be removed.

Racecourses on the other hand are rarely plagued by unauthorised parkers so it’s often more about making the best use of their facilities. Any space, a field even can be used to generate more revenue. Again, there are a number of options. Next generation payment kiosks make it quick and easy to charge for parking, with touchscreen functionality and the ability to pay in cash, card or pay-by-phone, along with the ability to accept promotional codes – no need for any physical tickets either as the ANPR technology will know when each visitor entered and left, along with what’s been paid. Super-simple, and certainly a long way from the physical sticky tickets of days gone by and the subsequent struggle to remove its gluey residue before driving off!

Other opportunities for revenue generation include event attendees who may receive parking at a reduced rate as part of the commercial arrangement and managed by simply registering vehicle details during the event. Again, depending on location, the site may even rent out parking to other attractions, nearby businesses or hospitals even, who could be facing their own car parking crisis. These are all solutions which can be blended together with zero hassle, allowing you to get back to business.

Cinemas can really benefit from loyalty schemes and solutions which encourage repeat visitors. Our good2go solution involves a simple one-time registration where customers add their vehicle details and payment preferences, after which they can enjoy completely free-flow parking on any good2go sites – simply drive in, find a spot, enjoy yourself and leave. Payment is deducted automatically as the ANPR camera recognises their registration details. Loyalty apps can push local offers to members, driving footfall and sales for both the cinema and nearby businesses too. Clever stuff.

If you’re suffering from abuse on your site, simply need to manage your parking better or want to find out more about creating a new revenue stream for your business, you’re not alone. Whether you’re a blue-chip household name or a small independent surface site, we’re here to help. As the biggest private sector operator of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems, with the largest privately-owned ANPR database in Europe, we’re serious about doing things right.

To talk to us about improving the way you do things, get in touch


* Passion for leisure: A view of the UK leisure consumer, Deloitte LLP, 2016