Fri, 03 November 2017
Omar’s company ParkPoint currently offers valet parking and parking management services at City Centre Bahrain, Seef Mall, Adliya’s Block 338 and a number of hotels and restaurants, as well as managing various parking lots.
Before the end of 2017, the company will transform all its operations from manual to automated, integrating all its locations through a centralised system.
Until now, each location operated individually but, inspired by a desire to revolutionise the way customers use valet parking and parking in general, Omar has launched ParkPass, a membership scheme which will provide members with both convenience and savings.
He explains: “That is only the beginning; we are looking at rapidly expanding into further valet parking locations. Also, ParkPass will not be limited purely to valet parking. We seek to include all paid parking locations to the scheme whether this parking is under our management or not.”
Would-be members can simply sign up online at www.park-pass.com, through any of the valet attendants at the existing locations, by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by simply calling 38 888-231 or 66 779-955 to register. Joining is completely free and members will receive a ParkPass bar code sticker, which can be placed either on the vehicle’s windshield or inside the driver’s door panel, where you find the chassis number. They will also be provided with a ParkPass Membership Card which will be scanned by the valet attendant to either buy or redeem points.
Omar says: “When we looked at developing ParkPass there were two considerations: convenience and savings. The barcode brings ultimate convenience – it is simply scanned and there is no cash transaction. The cash transaction is currently the most inconvenient aspect of valet parking, which normally takes place at the customer’s departure time, so we wanted to eliminate that. With ParkPass the valet attendant will deduct the points from the member’s account through scanning the barcode on the sticker or card. Paying with points offers savings as customers will receive discounted rates depending on their tier of membership – Blue, Silver, or Gold, with Gold being the tier with maximum discount.”
Expanding on what motivated the creation of ParkPass, Omar continues: “My inspiration is to enhance customers’ experience through technology. Also, I know that we are in the information era, the big data era, the platform era. I hear about big exciting companies and these things are commonplace for them – business these days is basically all about platforms and I think history will talk about companies which became huge through the use of platforms. I wanted to be part of that and I knew that to do so, I had to innovate!”
A member of EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organisation), a global peer-to-peer networking organisation, Omar got together a brainstorming session with his forum of fellow entrepreneurs, who helped him thrash out the mechanics of his idea. He explains: “The moment I saw everyone throwing ideas with excitement, I realised this could be big.”
And, from there, the idea for ParkPass was born, though, like any innovation, development was not without its challenges. One of the major issues he faced was project management. Omar explains: “We didn’t have the knowledge, expertise or infrastructure in the company; up until that point we were purely a service provider but it gave us the opportunity to develop the existing team into technology roles. I believe it’s not about learning knowledge but rather about learning as much as you can and then doing it – you are learning as you go along. Knowledge will get you to see the straight road but, if you want to see what’s round the bend, you have to get out there and look!”
Membership is just the first phase in Omar’s vision. The bigger picture is a mobile app, which will incorporate that, among a range of other useful functions, and is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2018.
The main function of the app is to help users to navigate parking and valet parking locations, pay for the parking, and save while using the service. However, the app will not be limited to paid parking only, as it will enable users to navigate free parking spaces as well.
Omar explains: “We want to revolutionise the parking industry; we want to change the behaviour of drivers in finding and paying for their parking. We want to change the behaviour of the public in the same way Uber has changed the way people look for a taxi, Expedia changed the way we travel and Facebook changed the way we communicate.“
He outlines an idea that he hopes will reduce the Kingdom’s notorious congestion, explaining: “You will often see cars parked at the front of a shop, blocking the road. They may not even be aware that there’s a perfectly good car park available at the rear. The app will allow all users, whether they are a ParkPass members or not, to access information about available parking areas – that’s got to be a good thing in terms of easing traffic congestion and solving parking issues.”
Initially ParkPass is aimed at those individuals who already use the valet parking service but Omar is in discussions with major banks about the possibility of making ParkPass available to their cardholders. He is also optimistic that credit card companies, airlines, real estate developers, car dealers, telecommunications organisations and major corporations will also see the benefits both for their own senior staff and also as part of future customer packages.
He concludes: “Any company that has premium users can benefit from this service.”
And, not content with launching the ParkPass membership and the soon-to-come mobile app, he adds that there’s another big innovation in the pipeline to be revealed in the near future.