From the 13th-14th June, Coventry’s Ricoh Arena played host to Europe’s largest dedicated parking exhibition. The 26th annual Parkex saw 89 companies descend upon the arena’s exhibition hall, making this the largest stand-alone parking show in its history. Over two days, visitors perused the latest parking services and technologies, seizing chances to learn, network and debate through a packed programme of socials and seminars.
The British Parking Association’s flagship event followed a tried-and-true formula of Hub Programme talks, networking opportunities and a maze of exhibitor stands to explore, but this year also marked the sophomore appearance of the Innovation Trail. Designed to showcase cutting-edge developments in parking technology, 17 finalists (including ParkMaven) had been selected to receive special promotion during the exhibition. Just one would be crowned the first Innovation Trail winner, to be decided by public vote following a pitch-off in the Hub.
For the ParkMaven team, the event presented a long-awaited opportunity to build on the success of their recent launch dinner and introduce their product suite to members of the parking public. Nine delegates travelled to the Ricoh Arena to present ParkMaven’s three software solutions:
- The Booking Button, a white-label booking engine allowing operators to sell parking spaces direct and without commission
- The Channel Manager, distributing spaces online to attract the world’s largest audience for pre-book parking
- The Smart Dashboard, displaying real-time data in one place with one login
A large spinning fortune wheel promising pounds off parking persuaded visitors to roll up to the ParkMaven stand and explore the technology on display. Representatives reached no firm conclusion on whether its theatrical rattling or generous £100 jackpot drew more people in to discover the inner workings of our debut software suite. Conscious of overcrowding our stand, and aware that Parkex offered as many chances to learn as to pitch, ParkMaven sent this reporter in search of the programme’s highlights.
Throughout the exhibition, the Parkex Hub held a series of panel-led sessions with sector experts. The BPA’s Lawline partners, JMW Solicitors, delivered a valuable lesson in reversing out of tight spots: their GDPR refresh provided invaluable wisdom on adapting to the changes. Understanding that parking has never enjoyed a glowing public image, the audience also received sage advice on handling defamation, unravelling pros, cons, risks and benefits of taking legal action.
Thursday’s Debate of the Day addressed the question of what we can do to improve the perception of parking. Looking to the future, Jade Neville of OCS emphasised growing the momentum of educational initiatives: representatives from the parking sector can play a powerful role in schools, teaching pupils about road safety and exposing teens to career opportunities in management and smart city technology. Mike James of Bristol City Council pressed the importance of public health, noting that parking professionals have a responsibility to urge drivers out of cars where possible – reducing congestion and encouraging physical activity through walking or cycling. JustPark CEO Anthony Eskinazi welcomed the future convenience of connected cars, predicting that payments charged directly to the vehicle could soon take some pain out of parking for motorists.
Finalists vying for the coveted Innovation Trail trophy were invited to ‘power pitch’ for three minutes each in order to earn visitors’ votes. ParkMaven CEO Harrison Woods presented with confidence and punch, detailing a common scenario of chaotic data management to illustrate the necessity of the ParkMaven solutions. Parking operators struggle to stay on top of fragmented data from various access systems, enforcement solutions, marketing channels and more - let alone analyse this data to maximise revenue. Woods promised his audience that ParkMaven can tame and manipulate data to the operator’s advantage, tapping into unlocked revenue potential.
The RingGo x ParkBee partnership emerged victorious with a phone parking solution designed to seamlessly open car park barriers with a tap in the RingGo mobile app. We thought AppyParking deserved an honourable mention, too: CEO and Founder Dan Hubert delivered an impressive demonstration of his HD Kerbside data. AppyParking developers utilised LiDAR sensing to create ‘signs to lines’ mapping, enabling smart vehicles to become fully compliant at the kerbside. The idea of an API layer providing a standard digital blueprint of every metre of roadside paint translated into remarkably impactful visuals.
Keltic Clothing punctuated the Hub’s in-depth discussions with a flamboyant Street Style Fashion Show. Justified by the sponsors’ assertion that uniforms are crucial in shaping public perception of the industry, BPA staff took to the catwalk to strut through five decades of enforcement officer chic. President Anjna Patel MBE was commanding in a 1960s ensemble, complete with bowler hat. Dave Smith, Head of Public Affairs, melted retinas in neon orange; Membership Development Manager Yasmin Jefferies, resplendent in this season’s Royal colourway, understandably donned sunglasses.
As if this entertainment weren’t sufficient, Events Officer Rebecca Harper was concerningly receptive to our suggestion of a full Miss Parkex Pageant in 2019 – who knows which other talents the board members are hiding?!
ParkMaven’s Head of Sales, Scott Allis, commented: “12 months ago, we attended without our own stand and a handful of partnerships and integrations. This year it felt as though we had a buzz surrounding our team and when you looked around the arena, we were working with nearly everybody in some way. Just imagine what the company will look like in another year’s time!”
Throughout Parkex, the team were hard at work cementing new business partnerships and picking the brains of industry leaders for fresh insights. Stay tuned as we prepare to reveal the names of our future collaborators and a new Q&A series penetrating parking’s most pressing debates.