Mountain railroads are of great importance in mountain regions. Both in winter and in summer, they bring numerous vacationers to the most diverse tourist attractions such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing or even the idyllic mountain restaurants. They are also indispensable as partners for hotels and vacation apartments, restaurants, stores and other businesses, as they are an important part of the infrastructure and without them hiking and snow sports tourism would not be possible. However, often the parking situation and parking management of mountain railroads is not optimal and leads to inefficient use of space, dissatisfied customers, high workload and associated costs. Find out here how to overcome these challenges and what benefits digital parking management brings to cable cars and entire mountain regions.
The operators of mountain railroads are essential for tourism in mountain regions. But they face great challenges, especially in terms of parking management. The challenges they face can often have to do with the parking spaces available, the economics of the space, a high number of illegal parkers and their lack of control. The main obstacles are briefly explained here.
Due to the large number of vacationers in the high season and only a limited capacity of parking spaces, there is often a great rush at cable cars and in their parking lots, and usually at the usual peak times. This leads to hectic parking traffic and long waiting times at ticket and payment machines. If, in addition, the parking search traffic is not organized and the allocation of parking spaces is unclear for the guests, the time spent at the parking lot is prolonged and increases the stress and displeasure of the visitors.
Parking spaces are often provided free of charge. This is the easiest way to operate a parking lot, as little effort is required. Other operators opt for a semi-commercialized model, where parking spaces are only charged at certain times. However, both types have the disadvantage that no or very little money is collected for the maintenance and upkeep of the parking area and parking technology. As a result, many of these spaces are not profitably managed and generate revenue to cover the necessary maintenance or modernization.
Challenges also arise from parking lot users who occupy the parking spaces for long periods of time or who use the parking lot but not the mountain lift. Examples of this are ski tourers, whose numbers are constantly increasing due to the growing popularity of this sport, but also campers or long-term parkers. If the parking areas are not controlled, these visitor groups use the parking spaces for as long as they like, blocking them for users of the mountain railroads, but without generating revenue. This prevents additional economic income for the mountain railroad operators, who lose potential paying customers due to the unavailability of parking spaces for mountain railway users. Due to the lack of capacity, in most cases there is no control and tracking of third-party parkers. For more information on how to avoid parking violations, read the blog article Avoiding parking violations.
For both paid and free parking for cable car users, reimbursement, payment and proof of payment often turn out to be lengthy and sometimes unclear. Depending on the operator, the processes for doing so vary, which can lead to confusion for some guests. Likewise, the processes, especially the refund and proof of payment, for free parking are often cumbersome and prone to error: whether the parking ticket needs to be placed behind the windshield or redeemed after the trip, it can be lost or not properly visible. Defective barriers and failures at pay stations can also lead to delays and thus to annoyance for both guest and operator.
Non-efficient use of parking spaces, third-party parkers and an error-prone parking process significantly reduce the revenue potential and profitability of a parking area. A digitized parking management concept can eliminate this challenge and not only optimize revenue, but also reduce costs.
The potential opened up by the digitization of processes has also reached the parking industry for some years now. Digital parking management opens the doors to more efficient processes and the full exploitation of optimization potential in the context of the traffic turnaround. This involves linking automatic license plate recognition, or ANPR technology, with digital parking management. With ANPR, vehicle license plates are automatically recorded upon entry and exit in compliance with data protection regulations and can be managed via integrated software. Providers, such as Peter Park, however, also handle many other facets of management with their digital platforms, such as managing maximum parking duration and parking permits. For lift operators, the software facilitates parking management, as operations such as management, payment, analysis and control of parking spaces are automated through license plate recognition. Some providers additionally provide tracking of illegal parkers, as this is often very time-consuming and inconvenient for operators. This service additionally facilitates operations for mountain railroad operators by reducing internal effort and keeping parking areas free for mountain railroad customers.
Cable car operators have the opportunity to generate new revenue opportunities through digital parking management. Pricing models can be adapted and implemented to specific customer groups. If, in addition, a service with tracking of parking violators is selected, third-party parking is avoided without additional costs or personnel expenses and additional revenue is generated through tracking. Since the parking management system is in operation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and thus also runs outside the operating hours of the cable cars, this can also lead to increased turnover. In addition, costs for maintenance, repair, control personnel and downtime due to defective barriers or ticket machines are eliminated, as barriers and tickets are no longer needed thanks to ANPR technology and digital management.
Parking areas and parking processes are recorded, managed and analyzed by (live) dashboards. Payment can also be viewed via the tool. Operators also have an up-to-date overview of all parking areas and their utilization, can set various tariffs in this such as day tickets or hourly tickets and link their offers with various tourism cards and discounts. In addition, parking permits can be issued digitally, which greatly facilitates the management of access for employees, suppliers and repair work, and enables free parking for the specific groups or individuals. The optimization of parking processes allows operators to thus focus on mountain operations.
The various visitor groups also benefit from digital parking management solutions. Finding a parking space is simplified by a smooth flow of traffic without barriers and payment by cashless and contactless payment options such as NFC, which means significantly less effort when parking. Visitors can also manage their parking stay even more straightforwardly through a parking app such as EasyPark or Parkster, which further simplifies the parking process and makes it even more expeditious. Since parking tickets are superfluous thanks to digital parking management, they cannot be lost either. As a result, guests are spared high costs due to lost payments. All this leads to a much more pleasant parking experience.
Hand in hand with the increase in speed and convenience of parking goes the real interest of the mountain visitor: more time. Since there are no queues at entry and exit, at the payment machines or at the cash desk, and the time spent on parking and related activities such as paying is reduced, visitors have more time to enjoy nature and the mountains. As a result, guests have more memories of the beautiful alpine experiences rather than the lengthy parking processes.
Satisfied guests are known to come back. To ensure that customers are satisfied, effective parking concepts and parking management for mountain lifts are needed, among other things, to cope with the rush and to exploit the potential of the parking areas. After all, the parking experience also contributes to the overall cable car and mountain experience, the vacation and thus the entire tourism region. Thus, not only the cable car operator, but also all other tourism businesses in the mountain region benefit from a positive parking experience.
In April 2023, the parking area of the Söllereckbahn was digitalized with the smart parking system from Peter Park . Since then, operators and visitors to the leisure facility have benefited from the barrier-free system through seamless parking processes, reduced waiting times and ticketless payment.
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Vacation time at last! However, vacationers arriving by car also pose challenges for tourist communities and hotels. Find out here how digital parking management helps to increase the attractiveness and profitability of the hotel industry and tourist regions.