As Ride-Hailing Services Chip Away At Demand, Valet Parking Firms Are Driven To Adapt

By Jack Flemming
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With the rise of ride-hailing services, some parking lot owners have had to find out of the box ways to generate lost revenue. For example, in October, a California parking lot turns nine of its asphalt lots into hay-filled pumpkin patches and at Christmastime, it runs tree-selling operations.

LOS ANGELES

The rapid rise of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft has taken a big bite out of businesses that rely on people who need to park their cars. Now they’re facing a choice: keep dwindling, or innovate.

Proper Parking, based in Woodland Hills, has seen a 70 percent drop in nightclub valet traffic since it started six years ago, said Brandon Helfer, the company’s president. In addition, it has seen a 30 percent drop in restaurant traffic and a 25 percent drop at weddings.

“At some nightclubs, we used to park 60 or 70 cars per night,” Helfer said. “It got to the point where we were parking 10 to 20.”

Nightclubs and restaurants, once pillars of the industry, are no longer reliable sources of revenue, Helfer said.

In the industry’s heyday, valet companies used to turn such a profit off the gigs, they would pay the venue owners for the right to operate there.

Now the roles have reversed. Those same venues often have to pay the parking companies if they want a valet presence out front.

Helfer’s company is far from the only one affected. Parking expert Casey Wagner, who hosts a National Parking Association webinar on the rise of the sharing economy, said the numbers point to ride-hailing services taking a big bite out of the parking, car rental and taxi industries.

Proper Parking, founded in 2012, the year Uber rolled out its services in Los Angeles, was born into a world already familiar with ride-hailing services. It’s openly confronting the change in the industry, finding new ways to profit off its parking services and changing the ones that fail.

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