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An Insider to ParkVia's Journey

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Friday, August 4, 2023

An Insider to ParkVia's Journey

ParkVia is Europe's leading airport parking reservation platform, dedicated to connecting drivers with parking spaces in over 42 countries worldwide. Our technology is designed to seamlessly integrate parking into your travel plans, working closely with car park operators and travel industry leaders to ensure that parking options are readily available when you need them most.

The beginning (2007-2009)

The idea of ParkVia began in 2007 when carrying out consultancy work for an off-airport car park in the UK. While the online airport parking reservation market was competitive in the UK, we noticed a gap in Ireland, around Dublin airport. The Irish public sought cheaper parking options online, but on-site airport parking was expensive, and public transport connectivity was lacking.

Our founders had a game-changing vision when they observed airport hotels with available parking spaces and shuttle services for their residents. They saw an opportunity to utilise existing resources, offering a more affordable alternative to official airport car parks through an online reservation service. This led to the incorporation of 'Airport Parking Site' in early 2008.

Facing challenges like cross-border VAT and foreign currency handling, we persevered and made our first bookings in late July, offering customers parking spaces at significantly lower prices than airport rates. Starting small with off-site parking in Dublin proved successful, and we quickly expanded to adjacent markets by collaborating with hotels at Cork, Shannon, and Knock airports.

The potential of the English-speaking ex-pat community in Spain became evident during a holiday there, prompting us to explore the Spanish market. We promoted local Spanish car parks in English and soon realised the demand extended beyond ex-pats. In 2009, we welcomed our first Spanish-speaking employee to cater to this growing market. The journey of ParkVia had taken off, driven by the passion to provide convenient and cost-effective parking solutions worldwide.

The rise (2010-2012)

Following our initial success, we took the next strategic step by expanding into new geographical markets. Between 2010 and 2011, we established ourselves in various countries, each with its independent website in the local language and currency. This transformation marked our evolution from offering merely 'cheaper' airport parking to becoming a comprehensive airport parking marketplace. We diversified our parking services, including on-airport contracts, to cater to a wider range of customer needs.

As our network continued to grow, we explored new avenues for sales channels. We extended our offering by providing the entire inventory of car parks to third parties, including airlines. This move proved to be pivotal as we secured a significant contract with Wizz Air in 2012. This milestone elevated our brand, at this stage "ParkCloud," into the international spotlight, enabling us to meet the growing demand for parking spaces across Central and Eastern Europe. Our journey of innovation and expansion had just begun, as we continued to drive forward, connecting travellers with parking solutions around the world.

Expanding (2013-2017)

In a rapid expansion, we grew from nine to twenty countries, incorporating more languages and currencies on a near-monthly basis. To streamline operations and enhance efficiency, we decided to merge all market-specific websites into a unified, multilingual brand called ParkVia at the beginning of 2014.

In mid-2014, we achieved a remarkable milestone, winning the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade. Her Majesty the Queen personally honored us, recognising our commitment to excellence in our global operations.

In late 2014, we implemented Microsoft's Azure public cloud service, ensuring high availability, improved performance, and enhanced scalability. This robust infrastructure safeguarded our data with active geo-redundancy, assuring business continuity even in the face of major disasters.

Though the website merge temporarily affected sales growth, it proved to be a strategic decision, resulting in a more manageable, marketable, and successful platform. By early 2015, our presence had expanded to 40 countries, surpassing all previous booking records.

As we ventured into new markets and sectors, we encountered various challenges that impacted profitability. Our workforce reached nearly 50 employees during the early stages of airline collaborations, leading to higher overhead costs. However, over time, we optimised our approach, outsourcing certain tasks for improved efficiency.

With a focus on cost management, wider distribution, expanded geographical coverage, and innovations driving higher conversion rates, our profits grew.

In 2017, we relocated to a fully serviced office in central Manchester, providing our team with a more convenient and flexible workspace. The move demonstrated our commitment to fostering a productive and dynamic work environment.

New investors and achievements (2018-2019)

In 2018, there were significant changes within our business as two of the original co-founders departed and Mercia joined us as investors.

Building on our previous royal achievement, we were honoured to receive a second Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2019, acknowledging our rapid international development.

In the same year, we embarked on an exciting rebranding journey, embracing the beloved ParkVia brand. Extensive testing with our global customer base led to a seamless transition, solidifying our unified brand identity. This transformation further strengthened our position as a global innovator, enabling us to elevate and enrich our industry-leading services.

Navigating the pandemic (2020-2022)

In 2020, the travel industry faced turbulent times due to the pandemic. But by early 2022, we were on the path to recovery, with positive developments shaping our future, introducing additional services like fast track and airport lounge vouchers.

Our Managing Director expressed his excitement for what lies ahead, emphasising how ParkVia's strong brand power continues to drive us as global innovators. The progression made in previous years allows us to operate under a unified brand while staying true to our core values and vision. It's an exhilarating phase of development as we establish ParkVia as a leading parking retailer.

Our journey with CAVU (2023-)

CAVU, a global organisation founded by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), brought together the respective companies’ ambitions, culture, and values when it acquired ParkVia in mid-2023. Following the deal, we are combining inventories to reach new customers through diverse channels in our core markets. Additionally, we are exploring new markets together as we scale our travel marketplace globally.

As we continue to grow, our commitment to providing seamless parking solutions remains unwavering. With an expanding network of parking options, an intuitive platform, and a customer-centric approach, we are poised to solidify our position as industry leaders. The journey of ParkVia has only just begun, and our passionate team is excited to soar to new heights, catering to the ever-evolving needs of travellers worldwide.