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Park and ride facilities are 'Spot' on for air travelers

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The owners of the Parking Spot wanted an image which would make their company stand out in a sea of park-and-ride companies.

Their marketing directors found inspiration in the company's name.

Spots.

"The brand is exciting," said Josh Wartham, the area manager for The Parking Spot, and The Parking Spot 2, which serve Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The businesses are two of a dozen park-and-ride lots near the airport.

"Look at our competition, nationwide. They either have plain colored shuttles, or multicolored shuttles, but nothing that really stands out."

The Parking Spot shuttle busses are yellow with black spots, and the Park Spot 2's shuttle busses are black with yellow spots.

Wartham said the advantage of having shuttle busses with spots all over them is that it's easier for customers to find the vehicles when they are waiting to be picked up at the airport.

"We want to make sure it's a little easier for our customers to differentiate between the two lots when they are waiting to be picked up ...," Wartham said.

Julie Walker, the sales director for the Atlanta locations, said the spots used in the corporate branding, as well as slogans such as "Lose wait in '08," have helped to create the idea of a fun environment, which is popular with a lot of customers.

The spots, which are also featured on the company's large bill boards along Camp Creek Parkway, help customers find the company.

"I had a customer recently tell me 'The spots made me want to park here, because they really stood out. You can get lost on Camp Creek Parkway sometimes, but I know to look for the spots,' " Walker said. "People fall in love with the brand and what it represents."

There are 2,600 mostly covered parking spaces at the original Parking Spot, which opened seven years ago at its' location on a hill overlooking Camp Creek Parkway. The Parking Spot 2, which opened a mile down the street in 2006, has nearly 2,100 spaces, most of which are uncovered.

When a customer pulls into the lot at either facility, a person in a observation tower will radio a shuttle to follow the car until the traveler's vehicle parks. The shuttle bus driver will then help the traveler load his or her luggage on the shuttle and head off to the airport. If a shuttle does not show up at the car right away, the average wait time is three to five minutes.

The bulk of the original Parking Spot's business comes from corporations, while The Parking Spot 2's customers are a 50-50 mix of corporate and leisure travelers. The cost to park at either facility is $8.50 for uncovered parking, and $12.50 for covered parking.

Business at both locations picks up from March to October, when the lots are frequently filled to capacity, Wartham said.

Another period of increased business occurs around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but activity dies down in January, when the lots may be filled to one-half to three-quarters of capacity, the manager said.

Wartham said there are advantages to using a park-and-ride lot, including those at the airport, as opposed to parking elsewhere when preparing to travel. The parking lots are frequently patrolled by employees, and both Parking Lot locations provide free beverages, and newspapers to their customers.

"You know your car is going to be safe," Wartham said. "We're an extension of the hospitality you receive on every other part of your trip, from the airport to the hotel [you choose]. For anyone traveling to Atlanta, all of these surrounding business play a part in the experience a person has when he or she visits the city."

The Parking Spot is located at 2741 Camp Creek Parkway, College Park, while The Parking Spot 2 is located 3600 N. Desert Dr., East Point.