For Q-Park, 2013 was the breakthrough in online reservations. We discovered that the more we are able to process the booking and/or reservation throgh the customer's final destination, the more effective and more profitable the activity is. In fact, in the past year, the most successful reservations were made through major events (websites), hotel chains, airports and (international) train stations. We can expect that this online service will increase considerably in volume.
Bank card usage at the barrier
Making electronic payments while maintaining security was a central theme in 2013. Our starting point is user friendliness for the customer. This resulted in the strategic decision that (wherever possible) everyone should be able to use a debit card or credit card to pay at our facilities. The key online introduction was therefore on-site identification and payment with the Maestro bank card. On entering the facility the debit card is used to identify the customer. Payment is only made at the end of the parking time. Many customers have such a Maestro debit card, but for a long time, privacy protection was a stumbling block. With the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) the cardholders details are protected.
The protocols are ready to roll out this payment system on a large scale. For this we have to equip all our entrance and exit barrier machines with new card readers. The software to manage the payment has been developed, tested and audited during the past three years. The system conforms to the regulations for privacy and clearing imposed by the European Clearing Services. The cardholder's details are not used on entry to the parking facility. This enables the bank card to be used as season ticket. When it comes to applying the PCI standards, Q-Park is leader in the parking industry.
In the last quarter of 2013, trials were conducted with this payment system in eight Q-Park car parks in the Netherlands. In 2014 we will extend this new payment option to our other facilities in the Netherlands and to Sweden, Finland and Norway. Belgium, France and Germany will follow. We have already introduced this payment system in Denmark; this was possible because this country has its own debit card. It is still too early to report on the results of the trials.
Pay by mobile
Following the current trend in payment technology whereby the card only has to be entered (Dip & Go), we now have a payment option where the debit card can be identified by means of a contactless reader (Tap & Go). This system will be operational in 2014.
Q-Park aims to provide its services 24/7. There are still technical limitations to printing a receipt such as humidity and replenishing the paper. Q-Park is working on providing digital receipts which can be paid in advance with the debit card and downloaded through our websites. Naturally, we take the guidelines for security of private data into account.
Number plate recognition
Q-Park Zuidplein Rotterdam was the first facility to work with number plate recognition in November 2013. Q-Park Museumplein in Amsterdam and Q-Park Stadsplein in Amstelveen followed shortly. On entering the car park, the number plate is linked to the parking ticket issued. After paying at the payment machine, the barrier opens automatically on recognising the number plate. This innovation improves the traffic flow in our parking facilities. We also use number plate recognition in our parking facilities in France and Denmark, for efficient enforcement of on-street parking as well as for our highly valued service to owners of private car parks. Just consider how this facilitates receiving a range of guests at offices and universities.
Facilitating electric transport
Our response to the slowly growing market for electric vehicles (including plug-in hybrids) is to place charging stations in our parking facilities. Q-Park car parks already offer some 400 charging points. The tax advantages associated with environmentally friendly vehicles will be changing and in 2013, this led to greatly increased sales. Despite all the incentives, electric cars still only account for 0.3% of the total Dutch fleet.