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Between hikers and skiers: How the Söllereckbahn used the off-season for optimizations

Between the ski season and the summer months, when hikers are driven to the mountains, it is rather quiet in the mountain regions. But mountain railway operators and other tourism businesses still use this time effectively to prepare for the next season, as the example of the Söllereckbahn in Oberstdorf shows.

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Technical revision

Technical revision includes regular maintenance and inspection of ropeways, lifts and other elements of the mountain railroad. This includes, among other things, the replacement of worn parts, checking the electrical and mechanical systems and cleaning the equipment. This ensures not only the safety of passengers during transport, but also the proper functioning of the equipment and smooth operation.

As a rule, the revision takes place in the off-season between the ski and summer seasons, when the facilities are not so busy. Maintenance and inspection by the technicians can be carried out during this time without disturbing normal operations. Through regular technical revisions, problems can be detected and corrected at an early stage before dangerous situations arise.

Economic audit

In addition to the technical revision, the low season should be used to think about the profitability and cost optimization of the mountain railway operation. Which investments and renewals can lead to higher process efficiency in the coming high season? As highly seasonal and weather-dependent businesses, it is particularly relevant for mountain railroads to cut cost factors and identify and exploit revenue potential.

The following points should be evaluated:

Personnel optimization: Many tourism businesses are severely affected by the shortage of skilled workers, so an evaluation of personnel resources is elementary. It is examined how arising tasks can be divided efficiently without overloading the staff.

Time savings: Time savings also help to reduce the workload of personnel. Therefore, it should be evaluated for which processes automation is possible and how much faster they can run as a result. In the best case, life is also made easier for the mountain railroad's customers and their satisfaction is increased.

Generate revenue: In addition, the question of possible revenue potential should be asked in order to generate further income - in addition to the fee for the rides. Particularly with regard to the strong seasonality of the businesses, approaches to solutions should always be sought in order to create a year-round source of revenue.

Reduce costs: In addition to an increase in sales, the reduction of costs incurred naturally also contributes to a higher profit. Which cost factors in operations can be reduced, and which can be avoided altogether?

This is how the Söllereckbahn used the off-season for optimizations

The operator Söllereckbahn in Oberstdorf, Bavaria, seized the opportunity during the off-season in spring 2023 and equipped its parking areas with the digital parking solution from Peter Park . The decision in favor of the system was made due to the challenges that arose from the management of the parking area that had been carried out to date. These included the fact that the parking spaces of the mountain railroad could be entered and left uncontrolled. Another difficulty was the control of parking tickets, which parkers had to take from a machine and display in the car - staff patrols could not guarantee complete coverage.

Since May 2023, all vehicles entering and leaving the parking areas of the Söllereckbahn have been recorded using license plate recognition that complies with the DSGVO. Staff who previously had to invest time in patrolling can now devote themselves to value-creating tasks, and the digital recording of all parkers also enables new revenue to be generated throughout the year.

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Maximum efficiency through digital parking management

An important factor that should emerge from the analysis of the economic aspects is the optimization of parking management. This approach is too often neglected, but digital parking management holds numerous opportunities for mountain railroads: optimization of processes, relief of personnel, time savings, reduction of costs and generation of a season-independent source of revenue.

A digital parking system makes it possible to make parking management more profitable and customer-friendly. Conventional barriers are unnecessary here, as license plates are automatically detected by cameras when entering the parking lot. In this way, the parking process is started without the need to stop in front of a barrier.

Once the parking process is complete, customers can pay as usual at a parking machine using an EC/credit card or their cell phone. However, it is also possible to simply drive out of the parking area and process the parking transaction and cashless payment automatically via a partner parking app. In this case, the recording of the license plate number when entering and leaving the parking area is not only used to determine the parking time, but also to automatically process the payment in the background - making it unnecessary for visitors to go to the parking machine.

If you also want your mountain railroad to benefit from these advantages, you can calculate the potential of your parking area in 3 steps here!

Relief for personnel through automation

The installation of a digital parking management system eliminates some unpleasant tasks for the employees of the mountain railroad. Managing parking areas is much more efficient than before, as staff patrols are no longer necessary and all data can be viewed quickly and easily. In addition, analyses and revenue forecasts can be created for employees with minimal effort. Additional relief is provided by outsourcing the monitoring of parking violations to an external provider. This saves costs and staff time, and more resources are available for other areas of activity.

Year round revenue

Through digital parking management, operators of mountain railroads have the opportunity to develop new sources of revenue that are not dependent on the season.

Parking fees can be individually adapted to different customer groups; for example, businesses can offer daily or seasonal tickets. In addition, third-party park ers such as long-term parkers, campers, or ski tourers can be avoided without additional costs or personnel effort. By tracking them, additional revenue is generated and parking spaces remain free only for the mountain railroad's paying customers.

Since the parking management system is active around the clock, seven days a week, and thus also runs outside the operating hours of the mountain railroads, this can lead to additional revenue outside operating hours. In this way, the high dependence on weather and seasonal conditions can be reduced.

Lower hardware maintenance costs

By implementing a digital, barrier-free parking management system, mountain railroad operators can save costs for maintenance, repair and control personnel. In addition, downtime due to defective barriers is avoided as they are replaced by implementing the ANPR technology and digital management system. The low-maintenance hardware of the Peter Park system is significantly cheaper to purchase and maintain than conventional parking systems and also reduces power consumption. There is no need for staff to patrol the parking area, as tickets for parking violations are automatically generated and tracked. This effectively reduces the operating costs of the parking area and opens up additional revenue potential.

Satisfied guests

Digital parking management solutions offer guests of the mountain railroad many advantages such as fast and convenient parking processes without backlogs at barriers or queues in front of parking machines. Flexible payment options also ensure greater satisfaction... Since paper tickets are superfluous, lost payments are also eliminated. All this leads to a more pleasant and relaxed parking experience: visitors have more time to enjoy nature and the mountains and simply an all-around positive experience - and satisfied guests, as we all know, like to come back!

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