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Method of applying a differential pricing structure to a parking facility

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000011632D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Mar-11
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Mar-11
Document File: 2 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This disclosure describes a differential pricing scheme for automobile parking facilities. This scheme is designed to allow the allocation of parking spaces to operate more like a true supply-and-demand market, maximizing revenue for the facility operator and increasing value and convenience for facility users.

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Method of applying a differential pricing structure to a parking facility

  This disclosure describes a differential pricing scheme for automobile parking facilities. Many service-oriented enterprises use differential pricing structures based on the consumer's willingness to pay for convenience, such as sports stadiums (seat prices are based on location), air fares (price points may change by the second), and gas stations (self-service vs. full-service). However, this concept has not been applied to public parking facilities or garages. Typically, parking fees are based solely on time. If differential fees do exist, they are generally tied to a specific service, such as monthly rates or merchant validation programs. These inflexible rate structures lead to an inefficient market. To solve this problem, this disclosure describes a flexible, dynamic pricing scheme that allows a facility operator to implement any desired marketing model and is capable of responding in real-time to changing conditions.

The central idea is as follows: When an automobile driver enters a parking garage, she can choose from a menu of parking rates (cost per unit time). Each rate is associated with one or more blocks of parking spaces in particular locations in the facility. For example, the rates might range from $1.00 per hour for the least convenient spaces up to $10.00 per hour for the most convenient. The driver is free to choose the rate she is willing to pay for the convenience offered. Upon choosing a rate, the driver is given a ticket marked with the location of a specific space in that rate range. A centralized computer system constantly monitors the number of empty spaces available at each rate level, and can automatically make adjustments to the menu, or to the number of spaces allocated to each rate, based on current conditions.

A parking space may seem to be a very prosaic product, but in fact parking spaces have many marketable attributes, and in a large facility the desirability of spaces in various locations may differ widely. Here are some of these attributes:

Proximity to store or garage entrances. If the garage is attached to a shopping mall, spaces near the mall entrance are more desirable than spaces in far corners, and can be priced correspondingly higher. Size. Extra-large spaces could carry a premium rate. Security. Spaces in a gated and supervised location could carry a premium. Protection from the elements. Spaces on the roof could be offered at a discount, particularly during inclement weather. Discounts offered by businesses. A store located near a particular mall entrance could strike a deal with the facility operator to offer discounts for spaces near that entrance, or a business might "sponsor" a rate in return for some advantage, such as an ad printed on the ticket or posted near the location of the sponsored spaces.

This scheme would require a new ticket dispenser that is far more sophisticated than the usual "Press here for...