I would like to put forward some ideas what we have in our business in terms of looking at parking. Customers at car park are entirely anonymous to us, we don’t know who they are where they are come from and what they are doing. Considering parking as another part of the industry, it is somewhat amazing that we don’t know much about our customers at all. A real challenge is to know these people. For this we have embarked upon quite a number of programmes such as loyalty programs and online prepaid booking programs where we are capturing that information because people have to go online to book for parking or to join a loyalty program. We found this strategy very successful. We operate the Westfield Mall in London and one of the challenges was that they wanted a electronic Coffee Cart for their parking where they would be rewarding their regular customers with free parking or discounted parking. In that process we were able to develop a CRM of all the clients and communicate with them. So these are some of the challenges we think parking can address, particularly in mall environments. The fundamentals of getting the design right is very important as is the technology such as the introduction of the access control equipment which Nimish and Wilfred discussed and which can enhance the whole customer experience. The next revolution I believe is about creating loyalty programs, creating online booking programs, whereby we start to develop knowledge of those customers coming into the car parks. That is where I see the future is moving quite rapidly and that addresses this whole issue of paying by credit cards or other electronic means.
Whenever I head a retail property or a commercial property, I attach some dreams to it, so there are some dreams to this revenue bucket as well. Parking is one thread that binds all customers such as the multiplex, food, apparel, beauty or others. The dream is, whenever I am planning a retail facility, we should plan a prominent ticker outside that this many parking slots are available at the entry so that the customer is assured that he or she will get a parking here. If there are, say three malls and if my ticket says that there are 500 parking slots available here I will immediately get that customer to my mall. The second point, which is also a dream because I cannot do this at my present retail place is that parking spaces should be very-very easy to locate. The zones should have colour codes which are rather striking, rather than just numbers which the customer can easily forget. It might be easy to forget if he has parked in 77B, C, D, E or F but he will remember much better a bright red or a deep dirty purple colour. Based on this principle, a neighbouring mall Select which I know, has gone further and done beautiful paintings in their car park. They have not spent much money on it, they just invited an artist from some school who did the paintings. The car park looks like a gallery with striking images in various parking spaces.
Next, we should not forget the drivers who are the ones who actually drive the vehicles into the malls. The driver will subconsciously take you to the place where he gets the most comfort, so the drivers zone should not be neglected. At the DLF mall, we have created some facilities such as a carom board, a small little TV for this purpose. Drivers often spend a significant amount of time in the car parks, so things like having a clean toilet in the car park are important.
Coming to the point raised by Brett regarding capturing the users’ data, we can do this if we offer valet parking. We can have some coupons related to particular malls, so that when the valet hands over the ticket to the car park user, he can also give them gift vouchers for select retail places. This can be arranged through a prior tie-up with them. These are some of the aspects of a car park which will make the customer experience much more satisfying, and as a by-product, bring in more revenue.