Philip De Brabanter, Managing Director Q-Park Belgium
The ‘Q’ in parking company Q-Park’s name stands for Quality. That’s because Q-Park has been offering parking solutions with many extra features for over 20 years: from wide parking spaces, angled parking and LED lighting to licence plate recognition. In 2020, Q-Park went one step further: they launched a user-friendly app to make parking in all Belgian Q-Park car parks the easiest experience yet.
For years, Q-Park has been investing in smart parking solutions to ensure a high-quality parking experience. Cegeka came on board to help with this 2014. ‘Even back then, we were focusing on digital transformation,’ says Philip De Brabanter, managing director at Q-Park Belgium. ‘Together with Cegeka, we have built an advanced future-proof platform that is still the foundation for every new solution. Cegeka has since become our strategic partner. We have the same vision on mobility, which means we are always on the same page.’
‘Cegeka is our strategic partner. We have the same vision on mobility, which means we are always on the same page.’
- Philip De Brabanter, managing director at Q-Park Belgium
‘In 2019 we decided to develop a mobile parking app to further improve the customer experience,’ Bert Geurts, Business Process Manager at Q-Park, says. ‘Frequent users of our car parks used to have a smart card, which worked like a subscription. It involved a lot of paperwork, both for us and for the customer. We wanted to develop an app to increase our efficiency and, above all, improve parking convenience, both for regular Q-Park customers and for occasional visitors.’
User-friendliness was the number one requirement for the app. ‘To identify and map out Q-Park’s needs in the best possible way, we met with stakeholders from both the Q-Park headquarters and from other offices,’ Benny Schaeken, Head of the Smart Cities Division at Cegeka, says. ‘Together we mapped out the ideal parking flow. We then created a roadmap and a design based on these insights.’
‘The Q-Park Mobile app is a complex application. Fortunately, the customer doesn’t notice that, thanks to the simple user interface,’ Benny continues. ‘The app is linked to Q-Park’s PaSS (Parking as a Smart Service) platform, which facilitates many business processes and also contains all the master data. It’s also integrated with our ERP system for invoicing and with our CRM system for customer data. In addition, the software works seamlessly with other hardware, such as the ANPR cameras and barriers. We integrated the payment technology via the online payment service provider – CCV.’
To reach as many users as possible, Q-Park’s PaSS platform has also been integrated with third party mobile apps, such as EasyPark and ParkNow, KBC Mobile, Skipr and recently also the popular 4411 app for street parking. This is possible thanks to the powerful, open Q-Park back-end system. For our users, these are ‘invisible integrations’. They make decisions and perform actions without any intervention from the user.
‘The cooperation and communication with our external partners has been excellent. We are all telling the same story. Together we’ve made parking so much easier,’ says Bert.
‘It’s integrated with Q-Park’s back-end systems, ERP and CRM systems, hardware, as well as with third party mobile apps such as KBC Mobile and 4411.’
- Benny Schaeken, Head of the Smart Cities Division at Cegeka
Bert explains how to park with the Q-Park Mobile app: ‘You create an account in the app by entering your licence plate and bank account numbers. Then, when you visit a Q-Park car park, your license plate will be recognized. The barrier opens, you enter, and your parking session starts. Leaving the car park is just as easy. As soon as you drive out, your session ends. Payment is made automatically via the account you set up in the app, and you receive a digital receipt.’
The app also helps drivers find a car park near their destination and navigate to it. You can also save the location of your car and navigate to nearby destinations… and find your car again easily when it’s time to go.
The navigation tool is very much appreciated. But Q-Park customers are particularly enthusiastic about the contactless entrance and exit, eliminating the need to use a parking ticket or payment terminal. ‘The barrier opens as soon as they approach it. This gives people a welcoming feeling right from the start. In the meantime, contactless and cashless parking has become incredibly relevant as a result of the coronavirus. Obviously we did not know this when we were designing it, but it’s a useful coincidence,’ Bert says.
‘The barrier opens as soon as drivers approach it. This gives people a welcoming feeling right from the start.’
- Bert Geurts, Business Process Manager at Q-Park Belgium
‘Smart parking solutions help generate more profit from parking: at Q-Park we have known that for a long time,’ Philip continues. ‘If users are satisfied with the parking experience we offer, they are more likely to choose a Q-Park car park. The Q-Park Mobile app will also guide drivers to the nearest Q-Park car park, which also increases the chance that they will want to park with us.’
Q-Park has already noticed how app has reduced workloads and helped to cut costs, while also being more sustainable. Bert: ‘Drivers enter and exit the car park easily, pay automatically and receive their receipts digitally. This means that fewer parking tickets and receipts are needed, which reduces costs significantly. In addition, our call centre and our Parking Hosts receive fewer calls. Cash-operated machines are often out of service because coins tend to get stuck in them. The app eliminates this problem entirely. Besides, now there is less money in the machine, it is safer for our customers and for our employees. And it also costs less to have the machines emptied.’
Finally, the app offers another advantage in terms of marketing and even strategy: The Q-Park Mobile app collects relevant data. This gives Q-Park interesting insights into its customers – which is both an excellent basis for marketing activities, but also for making strategic decisions.
The new Q-Park Mobile app has been live in Belgium since February 2020 as a pilot project, and will be rolled out for Q-Park car parks across Europe in the future. As Bert explains, ‘This has, of course, been a difficult year. We launched the app just before the outbreak of the pandemic. Thanks to the lockdown and the number of people now working from home, there were fewer car park users. And yet downloads of the Q-Park Mobile app have continued to increase in popularity, and people who try the app are continuing to use it. This is proof that we have once again managed to improve the parking experience.’
‘For now, Q-Park is the only off-street parking company that offers a smart parking app. We are very proud that we are still a pioneer in this field,’ Philip concludes.
‘There were significantly fewer car park users due to the coronavirus crisis, but people are downloading the Q-Park app in greater and greater numbers, and continuing to use it when they do.’
Q-Park was founded in 1998 and is one of the largest parking providers in Europe.
The parking company offers more than 547,000 parking spaces in over 2,500 car parks at strategic locations in cities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, France and Denmark.
“There were significantly fewer car park users due to the coronavirus crisis, but people are downloading the Q-Park app in greater and greater numbers, and continuing to use it when they do.”