Special Event Parking Services on a University Campus

On-campus parking is a commodity for faculty, staff and students. Accommodating additional parking for visitors attending campus tours, fine arts performances or large sporting events can be quite challenging.  At the University of Arizona, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) coordinates parking for over 250 campus events each year. The Special Events staff assists with parking advice, suggestions and arrangements for events, banquets, workshops, ceremonies, meetings, performances, and conferences.

When planning an event on campus, where your guests will park is an important part of the planning process.  Most campuses offer different options for visitor parking such as meters, short term visitor lots and visitor parking in pay parking garages.  Most of these locations have a limited number of parking spaces and do not guarantee the stall will be available to visitors as they drive up without prior reservations.  When considering whether there is a need to make prior arrangements, we request that events bringing 75 or more vehicles to a specific location contact Special Event Operations.  In most cases, we can discuss parking reservations, lot monitors, pre-paid parking passes, and alternative options for your group. In some cases, non-traditional areas will be used as parking locations for your events such as off-site lots, lawns, unused sporting fields or concrete pads.  For an additional fee, we can add to the experience by providing a large van or golf cart shuttle service to escort your guests from their parking location to the event.   

How We Prepare a Reserved Parking Area

Event parking isn’t regular parking.  Most of the time, the areas used are lots and spaces that regular or permit holders use to park.  To prepare for large groups of vehicles parking in lots or garages, there are courteous notifications given to “regular” parking permit holders.  It may be in the form of an email blast to the permit holder, flyers on the windshield or simple signage on message boards or signs on stanchions at garage and lot entrances.  It is especially helpful when notification is sent several days in advance.   This helps to notify regular parkers to clear the section needed due to the event and also to give them extra time to get to another parking location.  

When signage messaging is clear, it will reduce the number of calls inquiring about the displacement.  It is imperative to be clear and consistent in your messaging and methods of notifying customers.  It is also important to provide customized directional signage for lots and garages on event days for guests.  These signs should provide parking directions, instructions for restricted or closed parking areas, and if a permit or fee is required. 
If an event chooses not to make prior arrangements for their guests, it is still great customer service to provide the event with alternate methods of getting to campus, how to use visitor parking locations and providing visitor maps and an informational website address for their guest.  We inform the event planner to be aware of events already happening on campus and the potential traffic obstacles their guests may encounter.  

Being aware of all events on campus allows PTS to better manage the limited parking available. Whether reservations are made or not, parking information is provided to staff on the special events calendar and in an internal weekly memo.  The weekly memo is shared with all of our parking employees, UA departments and various campus neighbors.  The information provided in the memo helps our garage, field, and enforcement employees to be aware of increases in motor vehicle traffic, pedestrians and visitors.  This memo also helps the campus police to recognize when there is unauthorized event activity in lots, garages and lawns.

Lastly, parking event monitors are scheduled to secure reserved spaces and to provide information on alternate parking locations for those required to relocate.  The monitors offer person to person interaction and peace of mind to the event planners by knowing their guests will have accommodations when coming to their campus event.

By Elisa Tapia, University of Arizona

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of emotions on display these days – unfortunately most of them are not happy ones.  The recent election process andthe events since its completion have proven that we are a nation deeply divided and honestly, nobody is pleased with the way things are going.  Regardless of which side of the issues you’re on, you’re probably experiencing turmoil.  

Unfortunately some people are taking that emotion out on our employees, especially if you are in any way associated with government.  Those racist rants you see making their way around Facebook?  Or the anger turning to violence against innocent people going about their business?  If it hasn’t happened to your employees yet, it probably will.  It has hit us here in the City of Las Vegas pretty hard and we have had to figure out how to support our employees while still serving our customers.

On two occasions in the last month, our enforcement officers have been assaulted in the field doing their jobs.  The first was an Uber driver who shoved and yanked around the officer giving him a citation for parking at a red curb.  The second was a man in a neighborhood that objected to being cited and shoved the officer around.  Both men had prior records of assault, and one had an outstanding warrant.  And it’s not just parking – a city code enforcement officer was threatened with a shotgun recently.On top of this, a man came into our office to address a parking ticket and ended up going on a loud, long, racist rant, telling the staff they were going to be deported, they didn’t belong in this country, he couldn’t understand them because they couldn’t speak English – just like those rants you see on Facebook. The staff ended up in tears because of all the really awful things he said.

Those of us in parking are pretty used to angry customers.  We are appreciated by some people, but usually those who work alongside or elsewhere in our organizations.  The general public doesn’t look too favorably on us, and we’ve developed a pretty thick skin and ability to let the anger slide off.  While it is a necessary skill in our industry, it also, I think, does us a disservice when confronted with these types of situations.  We don’t push back, we let people have their say without getting into arguments, we retreat when faced with aggression and just all around don’t stir the pot.

But in the face of physical violence and racist, personally hurtful language, we don’t know what to do, really.  Our skills, so carefully developed, don’t diffuse or prevent escalation in these cases.  Both officers that were assaulted refused to press charges and our office staff didn’t call for backup.  So what should we do as employers to protect our employees?  We hire and train for the skill set that screams at us NOT to take action or call for help, so is it reasonable to expect our employees to all of a sudden ignore that instinct?  Not without a lot of discussion, reassurance, training and organizational support.

These situations are where I believe managers and employers need to step in and prove their worth.  We called a meeting with our law enforcement folks at
the highest levels.  We looked at state and local laws to see if there was legal
 action the City could take against those who assault our employees or harass them in the office.  We came up with a plan and spent a lot of time coaching our employees – and we will continue to do so.  Most importantly, we need to make sure we back up our talk.

Here’s what we did:

  • Charges are being pressed against the two people who physically assaulted our officers – by the city, not by the officers  
  • Our law enforcement officers are doing 3 times daily visits to our customer service office
  • All of our staff attended verbal judo classes – the ones taught to police officers that dive pretty deep into human psychology and help us predict reactions and use some “mind tricks” to keep us safe
  • We revised our panic button policy – previously employees were told they should only activate their panic buttons if there was an active shooter or they felt physically threatened – now, they are told to give a customer using foul language, racist or threatening remarks one warning and then get help
  • We stress over and over again to everyone that it is NOT okay for people to treat us that way.  If we don’t do anything, we are essentially telling them they can continue.  And what will happen when they come into contact with another city employee?  What about the people around that hear and see us treated that way with no consequences?

As managers and employers, we have an obligation to do our best to create a safe and positive workplace.  We need to support our employees who do such emotionally difficult jobs.  Remember, we’ve taught them skills that make it very difficult for them to make a stand and the onus is on us, not them, to make the change.

– Brandy Stanley, City of Las Vegas

Snapchat and Impact on Mobile Technology

 Nathan Berry, Passport

From the “pretty” filter to the flower crown- – there’s no doubt that Snapchat is greatly holding the the queen bee reigns of social media platforms.

Being able to document your every move in real-time, while throwing in a perfectly curated geofilter, is significantly influencing how we move and document our short-term content. A day trip to Charleston? There’s a hot pink and lime green geofilter that illustrates the landscape. Heading to an Ellie Goulding concert? Don’t forget to add the tour-themed geofilter for a chance to get backstage passes. Everything is changing for social media, and in turn, for mobile technology. Users are quickly adapting to the major shift in tech.

As mobile technology changes the game for the growing social media platform, we’ll continue to see an increase in mobile payment usage. According to Accenture, millennials and higher income families are leading the mobile payment usage game — at 23% and 38%, respectively. From Venmo and PayPal to Apple Pay and Google Wallet — mobile apps are making it a piece of cake for users to handle their transactions from the palm of their hands. Oh and did we mention you can now pay a user via the Snapchat app?

Well, with Snapcash you can.For the transportation industry, users are adapting to handling their parking, transit, and permit experience through their mobile device. Move over kiosks and loose change for the parking meter – let your phone do the work. From being able to pay for parking to paying for your Metro fare via mobile app – the way and how you move is drastically changing. We’re a little biased, but we think for the better. As the Internet of Things makes headway in 2017, the way we interact with our environment and mobile devices will be significant to our everyday lives, particularly the way we move.

As for Snapchat, users are given total control of the way they interact with their movements. With advancements in technology, mobility will significantly be altered by apps- for now, Snapchat is leading the social media pack.

SWPTA Shop Talk – Spring 2014

Communication: how to answer the question really being asked?

When used properly communication is the most efficient tool in our arsenal. When communication is not sent or received in the manner intended it can be the most frustrating of hindrances. Often times we are asked a question in the course of our work and provide an answer to the customer. While the answer is directed to the question it is not really the answer the customer is looking for. Join us in our roundtable discussion to explore this topic and provide anecdotes to ensuring the question being asked is the information being sought.

Join us on March 28th for an informal discussion amongst your colleagues. Look for an invite through AnyMeeting soon!

SWPTA Shop Talk


“Troubleshooting Office Communication Problems”


Having problems with up or down communication around your office? We all have these challenges! How do you address them?

We all have issues with communication around the office. They can range from part-time staff not communicating with full-time staff to full time staff not communicating with each other. What happens when you run out of product to be able to run your business efficiently due to poor communication? Join us to provide helpful information on common communication concerns. Your participation could help change others office problems and possibly save a few hairlines.


Success for SWPTA 2013!

Photo Credit:  Stefan Perner

LAS VEGAS– October 27th – 29th, the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas was overrun with parking professionals from as far away as Anchorage and as nearby as The City of Las Vegas.  With 108 registered attendees, SWPTA 2013 had the second largest conference attendance in the history of the organization.  With record attendance came record sponsorship, and the event was productive and full of useful information.

Todd Pierce, SWPTA’s 2013 President, announced that the 2014 Board of Directors will be expanded from nine members to eleven.  With the new addition of available seats on the board, in addition to several terms ending at the close of 2013, there are many opportunities for members interested in leadership and serving our community.


SWPA to become SWPTA!

The Southwest Parking Association is excited to announce we have renamed our organization, now becoming the Southwest Parking & Transportation Association (SWPTA). The name change symbolizes how parking and transportation are connected systems that, in concert, facilitate the diverse mobility needs of the public.

In today’s municipal and university environments, parking is continuously becoming more integrated with transportation. Transportation Demand Management (TDM), Urban Planning, Technology Integration and Sustainability are each impacting our mobility. The way in which parking systems interface with every mode of transportation not only shapes our industry, but affects how people move throughout the world.

SWPTA is a proud ally of the International Parking Institute, and is dedicated to serving the networking and professional development needs of both parking and transportation industry members. In the spirit of inclusion, we make no distinction between institutions and corporations or between CEOs and front line staff. We exist to provide a platform for discussion to enable the spread of information,  methodologies and best practices for the parking and transportation industries. SWPTA invites you to join the conversation by becoming a member and/or sponsor, regularly visiting and contributing to our website http://www.southwestparking.org, and attending our 11th annual conference, October 27th – 30th in Las Vegas!

Leader of the Brand


It’s all in the Name! Sixteen years ago, the city of Portland, Oregon arrived at an innovative idea: to develop a brand identity for its municipal parking operations. In 1993, Portland Public Parking became SmartPark. And since then, parking in downtown Portland hasn’t been the same.

To read more of this article by Todd Pierce, click here

Airport Parking Takes Off

Vancouver International Airport’s Parking Structure Undergoes a Wayfinding Makeover

We don’t go to an airport to park. We go to fly! So parking need not be the adventure. The anxiety of arriving to the airport on time to catch our flight is often heightened as we approach the airport and begin thinking about parking. Do I attempt to park in the long-term lot and hope the shuttle will get me to the terminal in time? Do I chance finding a parking spot in the garage?  To read more of this article by Todd Pierce, click here