Friday, March 23, 2012

Bob Hope Airport may dump $14,600-a year luxury valet parking

Apparently there is a limit on how much people are willing to pay to pamper their car and save a few minutes, even in car-crazy L.A.

An effort at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank to provide super luxury valet parking for $14,600 a year has been a flop and has been recommended for discontinuation.

Despite the upsides -– reserved, extra-wide, covered spaces and shortened wait times -– the deluxe valet service has not drawn a single customer.

“We’ve had no takers since the product was introduced,” said Clint Joy, a vice president for Standard Parking, which took over operations at Bob Hope last month.

The recommendation covers the Black Diamond and Platinum parking, the top rungs for valet service at the airport. The luxury services debuted in December 2009.

While the Black Diamond was the priciest service at $14,600, the Platinum valet offering was a more reasonable $31 a day. But it too, Joy said, has not been faring well.

The recommendation to eliminate the services is a bit of a reality check for airport authority officials, who have been grappling for months with how to stem the decline of parking revenue, a vital source of income for the airport.
Joy recommended that the Gold valet service, which costs $21 a day, be enhanced, perhaps with a “frequent parker” program. Similar to frequent flier programs that airlines offer, it would let Standard identify each driver so employees could address them by name.

An enhancement that’s already in place is a shortened average wait time for valet customers picking up their vehicles, Joy said. Customers wait an average of three minutes now that Standard has taken over the service, he said.

“Prior to that, it was closer to seven or eight minutes,” he added.

Standard representatives also outlined possible ways to increase revenue, such as an online parking reservation system that would designate a certain number of parking spaces near the terminal that would be available by reservation. Drivers would pay a premium for the service, said Pamela Brown, vice president of business development for Standard, adding that it could either be a flat fee or calculated on a per-day basis.

Brown said the reservation system would cost the airport $2 per permit.

At other airports, the online service has filled spaces mid-week and generates a couple of thousand dollars a month, Brown said.

“It’s been a very popular convenience,” she said.

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