Booking Agents or Book Direct.
Comparison sites are what it says on the tin, they offer the opportunity for you to compare prices on your chosen product and in some cases but not all, explain the advantages over one product to another. This is great for products like insurance or banking but does it apply to other businesses like airport parking?
What are the real advantages of buying through comparison sites compared to buying local or going direct to the product company? As with the example above we shall look at airport parking and explain the differences between booking through an agent and booking direct.
Depending on the agent or comparison site the Customer will have a choice of a number of parking operators to choose from. If we take Gatwick Airport Parking as an example these prices range from £35 upwards to over £100 for a weeks depending on the quality of the service. We will assume that the lower price range would offer a park and ride service ( transfer by bus ) and the higher price would be a valet parking service or meet and greet at the airport terminal. However this does not always apply as some agents offer a meet and greet parking service as low as £40 - £50. Prices as low as this for a valet service can only be offered by un-approved operators where they are compromising on safety and security. It is most unlikely the agent will sell the product for less than the operator itself.
Most parking operators are tied to their agents inasmuch as their prices cannot be more or less than the agent selling the product. This means that the parking operator will have to take a hefty chunk of its fee to pay the agent and this can be as much as 35%. Add this to the 20% VAT element of the booking it means that the operator is only getting approximately 50% of the total cost of the booking. This substantial cut in the operator’s profit margins can only reflect itself in the ultimate quality of the service the Customer receives. At a price range of £35 to £50 this means that the profit is small or non-existent or where the parking is not subject to adequate insurance, has no planning permission or even VAT.
The recently introduced Approved Operator Scheme at Gatwick will inevitably create a bigger divide in price between park and ride and valet parking. Airport Access Charges have been introduced for every vehicle that enters the forecourts. This again will create a greater burden on the Operator as it is them that will have to absorb the costs and not the commission agent.
Most of the Gatwick Parking operators have their own web sites in spite of the fact that most of their traffic is derived from the Agents. The Agents are superior marketers and this is readily demonstrated by typing in a keyword such as ‘
’ in a search engine
such as ‘Google’. The first page is entirely made up of agents or comparison
sites and sole operator sites are found further on. Gatwick
If you look at price comparison web sites for airport parking and then compare them to sole operator web sites you will find an enormous difference particularly if the sole operator is an approved operator.
The sole operator’s web site goes a long way to explaining its service and the industry surrounding it. The agent’s web site is a long way short of descriptions and will simply show icons to indicate what is offered with no actual detail.
If you are a new Customer and you are booking direct with an approved parking operator at Gatwick then you will find the operator working hard to please you and to tempt you back again and again. Very often the operator will offer discounts for your next trip.