As we head into the holiday season, many of us are turning our attention to how we can bring some festive cheer to what has been a challenging year. Ordinarily, we might be busy planning parties or family meals and filling our calendars with catch-ups with friends. But the coronavirus pandemic means that many of us are having to rethink our celebrations, and these changes to our traditions and habits are having a knock-on effect on various industries that rely on the holiday season.
Usually, in December, city centers and shopping malls would be heaving with people stocking up on gifts, airports would be busy with people returning home to see loved ones, and sporting and entertainment venues would be packed with people enjoying big games and holiday entertainment. But, with many places in lockdown and restrictions still in place around the globe, footfall is down across the board and parking facilities are standing half-full or empty.
Earlier in the year, we took a look at how parking lots were being repurposed into testing centers, drive-in cinemas, alfresco dining areas, and a whole host of other alternative uses. And, as we head into the holiday season many parking managers and operators are busy transforming their lots again. But something magical is happening this year, far beyond the usual Christmas tree sale, parking lots are being transformed into winter wonderlands complete with drive-thru light shows and even drive-in pantomimes!
Holiday Cheer Flying High
With air travel severely reduced by coronavirus restrictions, 2020 has been an especially difficult year for the airport parking industry. Some airport parking facilities opened up as testing sites whilst others found inventive ways to bring in some much-needed revenue, such as opening up drive-in cinemas or offering their car parking spaces to carsharing and car rental companies. But for the holidays, many have in-car events planned to bring a little magic back to the year.
At Toronto Pearson International Airport Polar promises to be a covid-safe family spectacular set over six levels filled with iconic holiday experiences. Drivers will begin their journey into a winter wonderland by traveling through an immersive LED light tunnel, whilst larger than life holiday décor and a real Santa, ready for a photo opportunity, will add to the magic.
In the UK, The Parking Lot Social will be taking their merry extravaganza on tour to a number of venues, including Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Skyport Glasgow Airport Parking, and Bristol Airport. Drivers will be able to choose from pantomime, comedy nights, festive films, and party nights complete with bingo, quizzes, a silent disco, and car-a-oke!
Bag Yourself Some Festive Fun
Finding a parking space at a shopping mall can be a time-consuming process during the festive period, with people flocking to the shops to stock up on essentials and find that perfect gift. But, with shops closed in some countries, and people reluctant to head to the high-street, parking facilities are experiencing low occupancy rates.
The Parking Lot Social will also be bringing their DJing Santa Claus and 60ft rainbow-colored tree to the Trafford Center in Greater Manchester. And, at the closed Westfield Promenade Mall in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles the parking lot is set to become a holiday-themed drive-thru, breathing new life into a disused lot. WonderLAnd will combine lights, music, holograms to bring elaborate sets and immersive stories to life, including a display of holidays around the world.
The Parking Lot Takes Center Stage
Attending sporting events is a tradition for many families during the holiday season and many others head out to event venues for plays, pantomime, concerts, and shows. But restrictions on audience size mean that many events have been canceled or attendance is severely reduced. Event parking facilities that are capable of accommodating hundreds or even thousands of cars are looking for inventive ways to entice people back to their parking lots. And, for event venues usually experiencing low footfall during the holidays, alternative uses for their parking lots make a welcome additional revenue stream.
With the baseball season over, the Dodgers’ Stadium has turned to inventive ways to use its parking lots. This winter, the Dodgers Holiday Festival drive-thru promises light shows, video displays, fake snow, and displays honoring the Dodgers and the holidays. And, back in the UK, the Parking Lot Social tour continues to include two rugby venues; Coventry Ricoh Arena and Newcastle Kingston Park Stadium.
2020 has been a challenging year for the parking industry and until restrictions are lifted, considering new and inventive ways to use parking facilities will help to increase occupancy rates. By utilizing facilities as event spaces, parking asset owners, managers, and operators have the opportunity to recoup some of the revenues lost this year. And, by coming up with new uses for parking facilities during difficult times such as these, we open up the possibility to use parking facilities differently during times when there might typically be low occupancy.