ParkWhiz works to help fans park easier and get in faster at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. (Getty Images)
ParkWhiz finds drivers who buy parking before events spend more once they’re inside
The days of waiting for parking spots at venues are over.
Those who choose to zip into a parking spot ahead of the rest of the crowd can do so with the help of ParkWhiz, a 12-year-old company that works with venues and ticketing agencies to get guests in and out of parking lots quickly.
ParkWhiz is an e-parking company that allows fans to book parking spots before they attend a concert or sporting event. The ParkWhiz app helps them navigate to the spot as they get close to the venue.
Prepaid parking improves attendees’ pre-event experience, since it can reduce the lines of drivers waiting to pay their way into parking lots. But there’s another benefit for venues, said Dan Roarty, president of consumer brands for Chicago-based ParkWhiz: Studies have shown that guests will spend up to 35 percent more inside a venue if they buy their parking spot ahead of time.
“It just makes logical sense. If you’re taking out your wallet and paying 20 to 40 bucks to park, you feel like you’ve already invested in the venue,” he said. “If you pay $15 prepay, people forget they’ve paid for parking before they get there.”
ParkWhiz works with ticketing agencies such as Ticketmaster and secondary ticketer StubHub, not only to advertise but also to prompt ticket websites to ask customers whether they want to prepay for parking after buying tickets.
“If you were buying tickets to a Kid Rock show, there is a cross ad for parking on the website. We curate the three most relevant parking destinations next to the venue,” Roarty said.
The company also works with venue operators to ensure spots are reserved for those who choose to e-reserve a parking spot in advance.
Joe Leung, vice president of parking for Olympia Development of Michigan, works with ParkWhiz to ensure that fans can easily park at one of the many venues operated by fellow Ilitch Holdings subsidiary Olympia Entertainment, including Detroit’s Fox Theatre; Little Caesars Arena, home to the Ilitch-owned Detroit Red Wings of the NHL as well as the NBA’s Detroit Pistons; and Comerica Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers, another Ilitch-owned team.
Olympia started working with ParkWhiz in 2012, when Joe Louis Arena was home to the Red Wings. When Little Caesars Arena opened last year. Olympia decided to continue its partnership with the company.
“Our goal is to get people into the parking lot and into the venue as soon as possible, so they can spend more on food, beverage and merchandise,” Leung said.
Before Olympia used ParkWhiz, venuegoers had to rely on signs and banners to find parking garages and lots, Leung said.
“That time of transaction in the lane gets cut down significantly” with ParkWhiz, he said. Now, it can be taken care of before the event, which he said is priceless.
“Our goal is to drive everyone to prepurchases. They’re a better customer to us. They get in faster. It really extends the guest experience from the parking lot to the venue itself,” he said.
Venue managers are always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience, not just while they’re in the venue.
“The experience doesn’t start when you get to the front door,” Leung said, noting that he works with 33 parking lots/garages to get guests into Olympia-run shows and sporting events.
ParkWhiz also works with mom-and-pop-run parking lots, but they run security checks on those operations before partnering with them.
“In the last year we’ve really doubled down and worked on providing transportation solutions with venues,” Roarty said. For example, if a venue doesn’t have access to guest parking, ParkWhiz partners with nearby parking operators and hooks them into a deal with a venue.
“Now they can get a revenue share,” Roarty said. “They’ve really created a mini-economy around their venue.”
ParkWhiz also partners with travel and motor companies such as Ford. The next big thing for ParkWhiz is making parking totally wireless with Bluetooth capabilities, Roarty said.
“We’d automatically let you in when you pull up. There are a number of technical ways to do it,” he said, highlighting that new cars coming off the manufacturing line have better wireless capabilities, which will help ParkWhiz with future initiatives.
“No one ever monkeyed with (parking) for years. In reality now, every customer expects to pay for things with their phone,” Roarty said. “It’s time. The industry has to catch up.”
Hitting the Spot: ParkWhiz Facts
• The company works with hundreds of venues and teams to offer parking that’s integrated with ticketing platforms, team sites and apps.
• ParkWhiz offers parking for more than 500 venues in both on-site and off-site lots and garages in 190 cities nationwide.
• Ticketmaster has been a ParkWhiz partner since 2015. The agreement covers parking for 135 venues.
• A study at one partner arena found that people who buy parking in advance spent, on average, 35 percent more in the venue than those who did not prepurchase parking.