By Chelsea Webster

Have you ever unjustly gotten a parking ticket? Had your car towed? Encountered a broken parking meter or machine and been unable to pay for your parking session? Unsuccessfully tried to appeal a violation notice?

As parking professionals, we sometimes become desensitized to these very real (and sometimes very upsetting) customer issues. When that happens, when we simply go about doing our jobs, we can become the thorn in our (paying) customers’ sides. We can do rotten things like tow a charitable bus that provides haircuts to homeless people to help them prepare for job interviews, and send them a $900 bill for our efforts (yes, we did that in Calgary–read about it here). We can also generate plenty of negative headlines with the mere proposal of higher parking permit fees.

In the age of social media, it should surprise absolutely no one when news outlets on all kinds of platforms get hold of these stories. And it should also surprise absolutely no one when parking authorities and transportation departments become targets of the public’s wrath. But are negative stories forever in our future? Are we destined to be vilified time and time again?

What if–just maybe–parking authorities, parking operators, and parking departments could change the narrative? What if we could shift the focus to our sponsorship programs, our community involvement, our good deeds that repeatedly go unnoticed? If this sounds too good to be true, prepare to have your mind blown at IPMI this year, and don’t miss the session “Media Interactions 101 for Parking Professionals.”

Chelsea Webster is marketing specialist with ParkPlus System. She will present on this topic at the 2019 IPMI Conference & Expo, June 9-12 in Anaheim, Calif. For more information and to register, click here.