Online Parking Reservations at Edmonton Int'l Benefit Passengers & Airport

Carroll McCormick
Published in: 


Project: Parking Facility

Location: Edmonton Int'l Airport Alberta, Canada

Building: 3,000 sq. ft.

Construction: Dec. 2009 - Aug. 2010

Designer: Barr Ryder Architects

Contractor: Stuart Olson Dominion

Parking Capacity: 3,300 spaces

Online Reservation System: Chauntry Corp.

Entry Columns & Barriers: SKIDATA

AVI Tags: TransCore

Contractor: Time Business Machines

Paving, Power & Lighting Contractor: Lafarge Construction

Check-in Kiosks: IBM

Bus Shelter Construction: Stuart Olson Dominion

Website Design: RedEngine

Benefits: Passenger convenience, reduced terminal congestion

Noteworthy Details: Online booking, check-in service and baggage drop for WestJet passengers, power for engine block heaters at 1,700 spaces

Last August, Edmonton International Airport (EIA) in Alberta, Canada, introduced a 3,300-space parking facility with noteworthy services such as airline check-in and baggage drop for some passenger's and online parking reservations for all. The off-airport facility, dubbed jetSet, offers passenger new conveniences, presents the airport with an additional marketing tool and provides an intriguing way to reduce terminal congestion.

Passengers at EIA wasted no time capitalizing on the opportunity to reserve parking spaces online. "Fifty percent of jetSet passengers are booking their parking in advance," reports Brett Bain, EIA's manager of parking and ground transportation. Bookings have been as high as 140 per day - "fairly solid numbers for a new venture," notes Bain.

Passengers flying with WestJet enjoy an additional perk: EIA invited the domestic carrier to set up shop in its new 3,000-square-foot building and obtained an exemption from Transport Canada that allows the airline to check passenger baggage outside the airport terminal. This gives EIA the distinction of being Canada's first airport to offer "curbside" baggage check-in, says Bain.

Chauntry Corporation provided its Parkspace online pre-booking system for the new facility. Although EIA is the English company's first foray into the North American market, Chauntry CEO Teresa Hughes notes that the system is a "very mature product" in Europe. "In the past 12 months, Chauntry has generated $500 million (USD) in parking revenue," Hughes relates.

According to Bain, the direct interface between Chauntry and the parking system is key. "(It) removes any requirement for human intervention to manage customers' parking reservations," he explains. "It offers customers the opportunity to pay for parking when it is convenient for them and to save money."

Building the System

The airport paved, installed lighting and added signage on 53 acres of previously vacant land to create 3,300 new parking spaces - 1,700 with power for plugging in engine block heaters. The new capacity supplements nearly 2,000 stalls in EIA's terminal parkade.

From December 2009 to the following June, contractors constructed the jetSet building, which houses three IBM check-in kiosks, a pay-on-foot machine, two WestJet service counters, a secure baggage room and areas for valet parking staff. The airport also built three 400 square-foot bus shelters, each with its own check-in kiosk. The facility includes four entry columns, five exit columns, barriers, four pay-on-foot machines and a SKIDATA car park management system.

By airport standards, the parking facility was a simple project. For example, information technology specialists were not needed to set up the Chauntry software. "The software application is sitting in the Chauntry cloud, but there is an 'Edmonton instance' of the software," explains Hughes. "With the technology we give the airport authority, it can operate and run Parkspace anyway it wants."

EIA hired RedEngine to build the home-page for the jetSet website; Chauntry provided the pre-booking pages and airport staff enter the pricing and promotional information. The internet ties everything together.

After the building and parking infrastructure was completed, it took one month to install the software that runs jetSet. When a passenger books online, Parkspace picks up the reservation and sends the credit card information to SIX Card Solutions for payment processing. Once payment is completed, the customer receives verification with booking details via email. A reservation is automatically created in the SKIDATA system, using the customer's credit card as identification. Passengers who have not pre-booked can pull tickets at the entry columns and pay later at the exit columns or a pay-on-foot machine. If all of the parking spaces are pre-booked, additional passengers are unable to enter the lot.

Airport shuttle buses, employee vehicles and parking/service vehicles gain access to the new parking lot with automatic vehicle identification (AVI) technology supplied by TransCore. AVI tags, each with a unique identification chip, are adhered to vehicles' windshields. Antennas mounted at the facility's entrance and exit points read the tags.

Directly integrating TransCore's AVI system into the SKIDATA parking system for the purpose of raising the barriers allows airport management to control access to the property, notes Bain.

Once past the barriers, passengers proceed to a parking spot or leave their cars in front of the jetSet building for valet service. WestJet passengers can also check in and drop off their luggage. Busses take all passengers to the terminal. "It is very convenient for our guests not to have to carry their bags to the terminal," says Robert Palmer, manager of pubic relations for WestJet.

Passenger at Edmontal Int'l wasted no time capitalizing on the opportunity to reserve parking spaces online.
While EIA declined to reveal the overall cost of the jetSet project, Chauntry characterized its set-up and configuration fee for Parkspace as about the same price as one entry column. Chauntry also charges a per-transaction fee. "This is a partnership, and we all win out of the success of the reservation system," Hughes says.

Other Opportunities

In addition to providing additional parking capacity at EIA, jetSet opens the door for new parking products, such as discounted parking for early bookings, weekend specials or cancellable and non-cancellable reservations. "When you get into pre-booking and prepaying, you start to, potentially, create yield prices," Hughes explains. "The other great thing to selling to passengers in advance is that for the first time airlines are able to offer a range of products and experiences."

Bain is inspired by what European airports are doing with Parkspace. Travelers can purchase lounge access or travel insurance through their websites. We have hundreds of ideas of what we can do with Chauntry.

Perhaps the most profound implication of jetSet is its ability to allow passengers to complete more tasks outside the terminal. Like the adoption of common-use self-serve kiosks that "enlarge" terminals by changing passenger tasks and flow patterns, the potential for a service like jetSet to reduce the in-terminal use of check-in kiosks, check-in lines and baggage drops seems inspired.

"It has been a great help to WestJet and its passengers to divert some baggage from the check-in counter," Palmer says.

Bain is especially enthusiastic about the associated reduction in congestion at EIA's terminal: "We see jetSet as the future of air terminal operations."


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