Concrete Jungle: Where Dreams are Made and Lessons Learned

By Bonnie Watts, CEM

I hadn’t been to New York City in many years, but my niece was recently trying out for “The Voice” and asked if I would take her. Of course, I began planning the trip and finding a hotel near tryouts, restaurants, must-see tourist attractions, and of course, parking.

The hotel app provided details and pricing on parking options. My intent was to park at a nearby facility within walking distance to save a few bucks. But after six hours of driving (most of those being on the New Jersey Turnpike) and nearly being T-boned while trying to locate the hotel, I decided it was probably in my best interest to spend the extra money and valet.

Upon arrival, I saw no valet kiosks or signs, so I parked on the curb in front of the hotel and ran in to inquire about the parking (I know, the irony of it all). Jim (names have been changed to protect the innocent), encouraged me to use the off-facility “partnering” garage because it was cheaper. He looked out to my vehicle on the curb, “Is that your vehicle?” I acknowledged my mid-size SUV. Jim responded, “Oh it’s more for SUVs to valet park.” I began to think Jim must be the front counter and the valet staff and didn’t want to go out in the cold to park my car.

I asked for clear directions where the garage was and verified the cost. Jim stepped out from beyond the counter and pointed through the front glass, “It’s right there.” I didn’t see a garage; he kept pointing as if I must be nearly blind, “See that big sign right there–it’s right there.” I finally asked, “Are you sure it’s a garage? Do you mean that lot right there?” Jim’s expression was “Duh, finally lady!”

I unloaded our suitcases on the curb and then drove off to park the car in the, um, lot, explaining to the attendant that I was a guest at their partnering hotel across the street. He give me a validated parking ticket. As I walked away, I asked, “Do I just show this ticket every time I come in and out and is this good for 24 hours?” Oh no, it’s that rate if you don’t move the car for 24 hours but if you leave and come back, it’s a new charge every time. SIGH.

So I spent my four-day weekend in New York using Uber and Uber Eats. I learned some very valuable lessons on this trip:

  • Communicating effectively with your customers is key. Misinformation on your website/mobile app/signage reflects poorly on your organization and frustrates the customer.
  • Mobility plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives and the landscape is changing daily.
    Jim needs to learn the difference between a garage and a lot.
  • Take Amtrak.

Bonnie Watts, CEM, is IPMI’s vice president, sales.