UK tourist hubs are expected to see an influx of visitors
Whilst many people frequently take their main summer holiday in the UK, as a nation we take over 72m* trips abroad each year – as you’d expect, the majority to warmer climes. This year is expected to be very different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and whilst limited overseas travel is now permitted, budgets and safety concerns are expected to keep many people on home shores.
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.
Within our own base, we’ve seen huge spikes in traffic across visitor attractions and tourist locations, despite ongoing restrictions. In some sectors, such as country parks, visitor levels have returned to pre-COVID times, a trend which is set to increase further as the summer takes hold.
Recent news has been littered with stories of beauty spots and coastal locations dealing with huge disruption caused by parking facilities 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 which ‘over-flows’ onto their land. Not only can this create a space availability issue for local residents but as a consequence, could lead to further blockages/impasses in the vicinity.
At ParkingEye, we’re already helping thousands of leisure and tourist-based businesses deal with unauthorised parking and understand the very real impact this can have on staff, customers and ultimately, your business.
But thanks to new technology such as ANPR, there are now a number of unobtrusive options to help put you back in the driving seat – delivered in a matter of weeks, often at low cost, ANPR is revolutionising parking to support the tourism sector as it emerges from under the shadow of COVID-19.
Parking is an essential element to most businesses. If the strategy isn’t right, it can become a downward spiral of complaints and operational pain but with the right solution, your site(s) can be hassle-free for you whilst delivering a seamless experience for your visitors. Here, we’ll delve into the options available to tackle ongoing abuse and prevent it from impacting takings across a host of popular tourist locations and campsites, as well as solutions which could help monetise your site to boot (pardon the pun).
Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras
ANPR solutions provide reliable and effective automatic parking management so you can keep track of who enters and exits your site, payments made and much more, to ensure proper usage. The technology allows landowners and site managers to monitor the duration of stay too, guarding against overnight parking for instance (unless authorised of course) 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, while 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 as a result 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 were taking advantage of the tourist hubs’ available parking, dramatically reducing spaces for loyal customers.
During the 2017 August bank holiday, a staggering 50% of vehicles in their car park belonged to people not actually visiting Wye Valley. Whilst 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.
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 very effectively 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 a manned attendant already trying to juggle parking on site, we can help support that too. Handheld devices can be provided to allow parking Charge Notices to be issued to anyone contravening the rules – our highly efficient back office will take care of the rest. Simple.
If you would like some more information about how ParkingEye can help with selecting the right equipment for your site and sector read our accompanying blog here or visit our systems and equipment sections of the website.
Sites dealing with spikes in visitor numbers
In some instances, there may be a lower capacity than genuine customer demand which is further exacerbated by large 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 be used to 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 which requires immediate action.
Further support can take a number of forms – once the site is full and management is alerted, manual 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 which simply states that the site is full, whilst being prevented from raising to let more vehicles enter 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, and also the likes of campsite managers, do to implement a parking process that will help people get their holidays off to the perfect start? Convenience plays a crucial part in both ensuring maximum parking payments but also enhancing and streamlining the customer experience.
ParkingEye’s innovative payment machines lead the pack, with thousands now installed across the UK and counting. With super high uptime, our diverse pay-on-foot portfolio offers a range of features – from solar-powered as well as hard-wired solutions to support your CSR strategy and the ability to provide change unlike many competitors across both indoor/outdoor models, freestanding and wall-mounted. Cashless solutions (payments made by card or phone) are particularly hassle-free and can be a blessing for the many people who don’t carry any form of cash whatsoever.
If you want to best of both worlds, why not go one step further and remove on-site payments altogether, opting instead for a ‘pay-as-you-park’ service to provide a unique, utterly seamless experience. Designed to eradicate parking-related stress altogether, with auto-pay your visitors can forget about scrabbling to find change or locate a payment machine, no need to enter vehicle/payment details every time they park or guess how long you’ll stay – your users can simply just drive in, stay as long as they need and leave, with an SMS to confirm the payment sent shortly after. It really couldn’t be simpler, as long as you have the capacity that is!
You may need to consider a number of services – maybe enforcement, alongside payment solutions. The Olympic Velodrome did just that – looking to free up space for genuine visitors but also needing to create a better experience whilst monetising their site using paid parking. Funds generated enabled them to reinvest £14k into their all-ability programme to help disabled users access the facilities and £10k to cover resurfacing works. Win, win.
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. 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
Whether you’re a blue-chip household name or a small independent surface site. 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.
If you would like to find out more about our services, please head over to our car park management solutions page for more information, and get in touch with us today!