With about 75,000 headed to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Levi’s Stadium is going to be dealing with a minimum of 12,000 vehicles needing a place to park. ParkHub Founder and CEO George Baker and CMO Jarrod Fresquez discuss with MPD CEO Karen Webster how their partnership with Verifone will use state-of-the-art technology to get fans into their parking spots quickly and efficiently and on into the game.
Everybody knows that classic song that goes with the Super Bowl:
Are you ready for some PARKING?!
Maybe that’s not exactly right. But for the 75,000 or so lucky football fans who will be attending Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, this Sunday (Feb. 7), parking is most certainly a concern.
That’s why ParkHub will be at the stadium as well.
The Dallas, Texas-based technology company started out five years ago as a consumer-facing parking reservation application but has since evolved into a B2B platform that serves as a vendor for stadiums and arenas. One of its clients is the aforementioned (usual) home of the San Francisco 49ers — this weekend, serving as the deciding battleground for the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.
On Super Bowl Sunday, 62 of Verifone’s EMV- and NFC-enabled e315 mobile point-of-sale devices, integrated with ParkHub’s PRIME mPOS platform that validates any pre-purchased or reserved parking, records cash transactions and facilitates credit card transactions, will be in the hands of cashiers all around Levi’s Stadium, allowing attendees of the big game to get into a spot quickly — whether they pre-registered or are paying with cash, card or mobile device — and on to their seats as soon as possible to enjoy the spectacle of the NFL championship.
George Baker, Founder and CEO of ParkHub, and Jarrod Fresquez, CMO of ParkHub, recently spoke with MPD CEO Karen Webster about what makes their product capable of handling such a high-volume event with maximum efficiency, why they chose Verifone as its partner in this endeavor and other potential applications for the PRIME platform.
What will enable the platform’s efficiency at Levi’s Stadium this Sunday, Fresquez tells Webster, is “a combination of software and hardware.”
Because the system was built to integrate directly with reservation systems — be it Ticketmaster, ParkWhiz or, in Sunday’s case, Click and Park — “we’re able to access their databases in real time and validate parking, whether it was purchased 30 seconds before they pulled up to the lane or it was purchased 30 days prior. In the case of the Super Bowl, the majority of the people that park are going to have already pre-registered their parking,” explains Fresquez. “So, on the software side, operating on an LTE network, which is extremely fast for data exchange, we’re able to query the database, validate the parking and get them through those lines significantly faster.”
Regarding the importance of real time, the CMO notes that the process ensures that all of the barcodes are accurately validated and attendees driving in don’t get “hung up in lines,” instead being able to “speed through those lines and ingress.”
“When it comes to the hardware,” says Fresquez, “that’s where Verifone gets all the credit.” The e315’s built-in 2D scanners allow “not only for printed scanning but also for mobile barcode scanning and QR scanning. Regardless of whether [game attendees] printed their ticket at home, got it printed from the stadium or if they have it on their mobile app, they’re going to just breeze through the line and get in faster.”
“Seven times faster,” adds Baker, citing case studies that showed that a traditional cash transaction for parking took between 23 and 25 seconds. “By utilizing our partners’ API hooks for the reservation side and [with] the Verifone unit being able to accept and validate credit cards,” the CEO continues, “we’ve taken those 23- to 25-second transaction times and shrunk them to between three and five seconds.”
“We’re parking the cars faster; there’s no more bottlenecks,” observes Baker. “So, that experience coming in is more efficient.”
Fresquez says that “on average, for a sold-out 49ers game, Levi’s Stadium has possession of approximately 12,000 spaces that they park in. We can’t even imagine what that’s going to expand to with them leasing out commercial lots and surrounding lots to have them be part of the official Super Bowl parking experience.”
“But that’s the great thing about our platform,” he adds, “that it is that flexible.”
That flexibility will prove essential on Sunday, as Baker shares that “historically, for a 49ers game, the traditional load-in is approximately six hours to park the 12,000 vehicles.” (And that doesn’t mean people are sitting in their cars for six hours, notes Fresquez; rather, that’s the total time from the first to the last car parked.) “On a 15-minute interval,” continues Baker, “the most vehicles parked is just over 800.”
ParkHub needing a device with ease of usability to which PRIME would be integrated played a large part in the company’s decision to select the Verifone e315. Fresquez, who spearheaded the project of finding ParkHub’s next mobile hardware solution, says he “chose e315 for a few reasons.”
“One, it runs off of the iPhone 5 mold; all the others ran off of the 4,” he tells Webster. “Two, it’s really simple: You have indicator lights for battery power; you’ve got indicator lights for NFC connectivity. It has one of the larger LTD screens on the back, and everything can be customized before our software is needed. On top of that, with the level of encryption that was offered, that was also important to us.”
Looking beyond ParkHub’s essential role at the blockbuster event on Sunday, Fresquez shares that the platform is also making moves into the area of concessions. For example, ParkHub is the parking provider for VenueNext, based out of San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium. “All of our parking data is put into their system in real time,” Fresquez explains, “so they’re able to not only manage, from a smart arena perspective, everything that happens inside the walls of the area, but everything outside as well.”
With its API hooks into its partners, such as VenueNext, as well as another group in Austin called Umbel, Baker states that “the point is that parking is that first touch, first experience within the venue. And we’re passing on that customer data, those customer analytics, that’s going on route into the parking lot inside the venue. And, yes, there are upsells, whether that’s within native app-pushed communication to drive traffic to concession or merchandise or if that’s within the scope of our point-of-sale unit, in which we’re able to then drive traffic and incentives on the receipt of sale that is then generated upon the sale.”
“To put in layman’s terms,” offers Fresquez, “our handheld unit is coupled with a wireless Bluetooth printer. With our system, you’re able to customize the receipt on a per-event, per-lot basis” — factors such as where attendees parked, their closest interest, remarks about the event they’re seeing — “and make the experience special for the customers.”
Another direction in which ParkHub’s software is headed, says Baker, is in the yield management of its capabilities to determine in advance whether an event is going to undersell (or, in the other direction, sell out) and adjust parking availability accordingly — for example, allowing a stadium or arena operator to sell off a 30 percent balance of prepaid passes when ParkHub has determined that only 70 percent are going to be utilized.
If Fresquez has any concerns about the big game on Sunday, it’s the possibility of new parking cashiers that joined the stadium staff in between the training sessions that ParkHub holds regularly.
“That’s the only thing that ever concerns me,” he tells Webster, “is coming into the big game, that they’re putting experienced cashiers out in the field or not. Because that’s what will directly affect the customer experience, if it’s not used properly.”
Overall, though, both Fresquez and Baker feel confident about Super Bowl Sunday, based on ParkHub’s statistics to date.
“With our clients, we’ve improved their revenue by three different factors,” states Fresquez. “One, with digital oversight; two, we make their operations more efficient, so lower labor costs; three, people get in significantly faster. And the operations are able to see all of their inventory and sell up to the point of entry.”
All told, the CMO shares that ParkHub has “seen a revenue increase for our clients anywhere from 17 to 30 percent but with an average hovering around 25 percent. So, it’s a 25 percent lift in revenue after using our system.”
“Lastly,” adds Fresquez, “with the acceptance of credit card or pre-purchasing, it’s like consumers are blind to cost and are inclined to be able to raise their parking rates around 10 percent more per car — just because they paid with credit cards; so, they didn’t have to think about it. Even if it’s a few dollars more, most consumers are going to go to the lot that accepts credit cards. They like keeping their cash in their wallet.”
“If they even have cash anymore,” remarks Baker.
“We’re becoming a cashless society,” the CEO concludes, “and were it not for the relationship with Verifone and our software, the consumers would have a very hard time getting into the parking lots.”