Digital parking finds a home at student housing operator

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Xior Student Housing has adopted ParkBee’s parking technology to keep its city centre spaces utilised and help local residents. By Richard Betts.

Proptech, is playing an increasingly important role in property management. The Real Estate Tech Venture Funding report stated that venture capital reached $32 million in 2021, an increase of 28% compared to 2020.

ParkBee, a provider of digital parking solutions, itself raised €30 million in funding in early 2022.

More property owners are using technology to improve the tenant experience. There is also a significant focus on ESG from both tenants and owners.

The digitisation of parking space can bring many benefits. These include reducing vacancy rates in parking garages, providing an additional revenue stream and supporting cities in terms of benefits in reduced on-street parking.

ParkBee applies technology to make parking digital, adding the parking location to a large network connected through mobility and parking app partners.

Student accommodation solution

An example of the benefits is provided by student accommodation operator Xior Student Housing. Robin Cremers, the company’s country manager, explains: “As a student housing organisation, we mainly focus on accommodation for international students. At the moment we’re renting out around ten thousand housing units in more than 17 cities. Property technology helps us to unburden these students. For example, with digital key management or apps that help new residents get in touch with current residents.

“We did not yet have a digital solution for parking. I happened to come across the ParkBee concept in Delft. We have a building there with 108 tenants where I had only leased one parking space, but the other 39 were empty.”

‘We are generating extra revenue and contributing to a sustainable solution for parking problems we often experience in the inner-city or campus locations where our residences are located.’

Robin Cremers, Xior Student Housing

Xior ran a pilot using ParkBee’s software and found it to be a success within a few days. “From there, we have spent the past few years looking at how we can apply this to other locations and what other possibilities there are,” says Cremers. “In the space of three years, the collaboration at one location has grown into an entire portfolio, and we are now looking to apply the technology to all our buildings.”

“Our big problem was that no one was using our parking spaces. Students often do not have a car or, at best, use a shared car. And yet we are in good locations in the city centre or on the campus and have to fulfil the parking space obligations of each municipality. We are therefore obliged to build parking spaces, but we were always uncertain about the demand for leasing these spaces. Now ParkBee generates the parking demand for us.”

On average, about 70% of parking spaces are underutilised. Most real estate owners generate income from their parking garages, but still have to deal with seasonal or habitual vacancy. For example, when residents go to work during the day or are on holiday.

Daniel Mens, portfolio manager at ParkBee, explains the advantages for property owners: “Property technology has a major impact on tenants. It increases efficiency and the data informs you about what is going on. This helps to improve services and reduces operational concerns.

“We assume that everyone already has a parking app and therefore we integrate our platform with existing parking apps,” adds Mens. “We don’t only make locations digitally accessible for Xior residents, but also people from the neighbourhood or from outside the city.”

Secure digital access

ParkBee provides secure access to guest users by connecting smart technology to the existing parking infrastructure. “The digitisation of the parking process by ParkBee also reduces operating and maintenance costs,” according to Mens, making it possible to “easily scale up within a portfolio as Xior has done”.

Cremers says: “One of the advantages of ParkBee is the quick and easy implementation. It helps us use available space more efficiently and thus prevent vacancy.”

Cremers also sees advantages in terms of  revenue and ESG: “We are now generating extra revenue and we are contributing to a sustainable solution for parking problems that we often experience in the inner-city or campus locations where our residences are located.

“As an add-on we’ve connected with all sorts of people you wouldn’t otherwise come across which benefits our connection to the neighbourhoods we’re in. And we can now demonstrate to the municipalities that we are making space available and taking cars off the street.”