A new company based in Ann Arbor, MI, is taking event parking online to improve the experience for both fans and lot owners.
Park n Party®, which matches fans seeking parking spots with lot owners trying to rent them, grew out of its founders’ recognition that fans often faced logistical difficulties when parking at college football games.
“I was parking cars at University of Michigan football games last fall,” Park n Party® co-founder Taylor Bond recently told Ticketnews. “I noticed that the first thing people did when they got out of their car was call their friends to try and figure out where they’d parked and how to find them. To me, this seemed like a huge waste of time and effort. There had to be a better way! A way to reduce parking uncertainties, frustrations, and traffic jams. A way to make tailgating with friends and family more fun by reducing the stress that comes with not knowing where to park.”
Thus was born Park n Party®, a Web site that helps fans reserve parking spaces at lots open for rental around the stadium. Following Bond’s revelation, he and his partner Jason Kapica researched the need for such a service and found their idea unique in the marketplace. They spent the next several months developing the site and went live last month, just in time for this year’s college football season.
Currently, the company serves exactly the population that Bond saw frustrated last year, fans of the Wolverines and area lot owners who open up their property for parking each year. But Bond views this as the company’s “test market”: he and Kapica plan next to open up reservation services to fans of other conferences, such as the Big 10, Pac 12 and the SEC, and then to other events of all types.
Fans who visit the site can reserve parking or tailgating spaces for the Wolverines home games of their choice. Specific features of the spaces for rent, such as available picnic tables, rest room facilities or valet services, are searchable while users make their selections. Fans pay a convenience fee to the site in addition to the lot owner’s asking price. With this rental arrangement, groups of fans can book several spaces in one lot, assuring that they will be at least in the same general area for finding friends and/or tailgating at the games. Some lots even offer “Side by Side” parking, which allows a group of fans to book an entire area together inside of a lot.
Lot owners list parking spaces for rent on the site, providing pictures or a map of the property as available. Normally, owners receive their regular asking price for the rented spaces minus listing fees (which are based on the price of the spaces they offer), but for the 2011 season, the site is waiving all such listing fees.
With its specialty of making parking easier online, does Bond see a future of collaboration with the variety of ticket resellers, such as StubHub, who offer parking passes to sporting events as well? “Yes, that’s one of our objectives,” he said. “Park n Party® is the perfect complement to what StubHub and others in the entertainment business already offer. Parking reservations are a great add-on for StubHub, Ticketmaster, ticket brokers, etc.”
On the whole, Bond views his company as at the forefront of an online movement, making the parking experience more enjoyable for fans, more profitable for lot owners, and less problematic for both: “Park n Party® is growing the marketplace for parking and tailgate services.”