Parking Packs Off the Purple

Kim Fernandez

Crabcakes and football. That’s what Maryland does.202938488_ec04ba0712_o

If you set aside lacrosse and Berger Cookies, the line from “Wedding Crashers” almost got it right. True Baltimoreans generally prefer picking our own steamed crabs (malt vinegar, Old Bay, amen) over eating somebody else’s handiwork in a cake, of course, but one takes what one can get when Hollywood takes over. Our world champion Ravens reign, and it’s a purplewashed place to be. Next week, though, we’ll suffer the injustice of watching our team open the NFL season from afar, and it’s all because of parking.

Football is a bit akin to religion in parts of our fair state–Robert Irsay’s 1984 run out of town only solidified our faith–and we threw our Ravens and their Lombardi Trophy a heck of a party earlier this year. We also take Purple Fridays pretty darned seriously, donning the royal color for work and play on the last day of the work week most of the year. So why are we resigned to watching next week’s kickoff on our TVs at home?

Parking. See, when Baltimore retired the edge-of-the-city Memorial Stadium, which the Orioles and Colts shared for years, to build the decidedly downtown M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it made sense to put them next to each other with a giant parking lot in between. They sit just blocks from the city’s Inner Harbor and the main business and tourism district, and there aren’t a lot of spaces to spare on game days. And because the outcome of the 2013 Super Bowl wasn’t known until February, Major League Baseball unwittingly scheduled the Orioles to play at home the night of Sept. 5–the same night, as it turned out, our Ravens will kick off the NFL season.

Two sports, two stadiums full of fans, one parking lot. No go. The Orioles held their ground and refused to move or reschedule their game, the scales tipped, and the Ravens were sent to Denver for their opener, leaving many football fans more than a little irritated (I haven’t watched or tracked an Orioles game all season, but I digress).

I’ll be wearing my purple and yelling at the TV instead of tailgating on Thursday, along with thousands of my fellow Marylanders. If you ask us that day, I guarantee everyone will agree: Parking Matters®.

 

Parking and Surgeons

Isaiah Mouw

A recent medical study published in the British Medical Journal Open concluded that patients place as much importance on finding a parking space as their surgeon’s clinical ability. Let that sink in for a moment.

The study concluded that factors such as the parking experience, food quality, and cleanliness of the hospital are as important to the patients as the clinical skills of the surgeon. Researcher Colin Howie, a senior orthopedic consultant at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said, “The clinical skills of the surgeon were on a par with a parking space.” In other words, parking matters a great deal in hospital environments.

The hospitals found that patient (customer) satisfaction depended on issues outside of the surgery they were having. We in parking are not too surprised by the results of this survey as this customer service principle is true in almost every realm of parking sectors. A hotel guest’s valet parking experience at a five-star hotel will influence the guest’s customer satisfaction at that hotel and the hotel’s five-star rating. The first thing a visitor to a city must do is park. That parking transaction, whether on the street, in a garage, with a phone, or at a meter, will shape the visitor’s perception of that given city. The same goes for prospective students or parents of students visiting a university. Did the parents feel their child would be safe on that campus based on their parking garage experience? Parking is often a critical and powerful factor in a customer’s overall experience–not just their parking experience.

When our youngest son was born, he needed surgery. Boston Children’s Hospital had a world-renowned surgeon known for his work with the type of procedure our child needed. For us, this surgeon’s ability was infinitely more important to us than our parking experience or the cafeteria food. That being said, we will always remember the excellent customer service shown by the staff at the hospital. If you asked someone for help locating a certain place in the hospital, they didn’t just give you directions–they walked you there. The parking staff was also friendly and the parking garage used a kid-friendly, creative wayfinding system with pictures of animals. Children loved it and parents loved having help remembering where their car was.

The fact that hospital patients in this survey said that the parking experience was as important as the surgeon’s ability speaks volumes. Remember this and take pride in knowing that improving your parking services is usually going to help improve the customer’s overall day, not just their parking experience.