Monthly Archives: April, 2016

ParqEx: 5 Trends of the Sharing Economy

5 Trends in the Sharing Economy

April 28th, 2016 Posted by Community, mobile app, Parking, sharing economy No Comment yet

You’ve heard a lot about the sharing economy and have most likely used a range of services it offers, from Airbnb to TaskRabbit. You have probably also heard about changes, wrinkles and shifts in this emerging sector. Here are five trends in the sharing economy to watch out for.

ParqEx: 5 Trends of the Sharing Economy

Trend 1: Blending of Corporate and Start-Up Cultures

GM and Lyft recently made headlines when they announced a collaboration. The established auto company plans to partner with a start-up so that both can leverage new technologies. This trend, of smaller innovative companies becoming backed by large, established corporations is likely to continue. And it isn’t just autos.

Another example is ReCharge, a start-up service which helps visitors in San Francisco book hotel rooms by the hour so that they can, well, recharge. By partnering with hotel chains, ReCharge is able to offer a range of rooms and amenities to their customers. This is another example of large companies scaling down to serve niche markets, another trend that is discussed later.

Trend 2: Regulations and Growth

The challenge with blending corporate and start-up cultures lies in navigating between traditional employment models and sharing economy employment models. Independent contractors who serve start-up enterprises often do not have the licensing or insurance of full-time employees. This lack of regulation concerns some customers, some employees and many unions.

Billee Howard, CEO and founder of Brandthropologie, points out that “regulations trail innovation.” While federal and local government agencies work with unions and established corporations to iron out the issues liability and employee compensation, innovation hasn’t stopped. Upcoming trends in this area include legislation, legal battles but ultimately a resolution that fosters growth.

Trend 3: Keeping it Real

Critics of the sharing economy like to point out that there isn’t much sharing occurring in the model.

Duncan McCann writes on the New Economics blog, that booking a stay using AirBnb  requires monetary exchange.  Unlike couchsurfing, a community based free exchange,  Airbnb and similar apps are driven by profit. This, according to McCann and others, is not truly sharing. In reality, the Airbnb model is more akin to an access economy or peer-to-peer economy.

McCann also points out that many platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, make profits because of the value created by the platform’s users. He foresees a future of a true sharing economy that is fostered “in way that really supports those who create the value.”

Howard notes that this type of trend is being seen in Europe, with community based models of sharing, such as a shared refrigerator. If you take something out, you put something back in. Since European trends tend to make their way to North America a true sharing economy might be on the horizon. However, this type of European sharing economy will not likely overtake the American peer-to-peer/sharing economy which is expected to reach $325 billion dollars by 2025.

Trend 4: Quantifying Environmental Impact

One benefit of the sharing economy that goes beyond its monetary value is the value it holds for protecting the environment. By sharing resources, staying local and living a philosophy of only using what you need, sharing business models cut down on waste.

The Huffington Post reports that a tourist using a home-sharing service will reduce CO2 emissions by 66% when compared to staying in a hotel. But not all savings are quantifiable, as pointed out by economists at the University of Pennsylvania.

Since the sharing economy is in its infancy, hard data is not available. One trend to look for is an increase in the amount of data collected on the sharing economy’s environmental impact.

Trend 5: Increasing Niche Markets

While the sharing economy itself is growing in value, smaller companies will be the ones that ultimately benefit. Recently, well-funded start-ups in the on-demand parking niche have dropped out. The reason is due to lack of scalability. However, smaller niche markets with an eye on local development and services have a better chance of making an impact.

Additionally niche markets like Patagonia’s Yerdle, that keeps used items in circulation among members, serves a specific need for a specific clientele. Another example is Absolut Vodka’s local distillery start-up program that encourages local people to start their own local distillery with recipes and backing from the international vodka company. This sharing of knowledge, techniques and goods is a trend worth watching.

The sharing economy is serves consumers who need local services delivered in seamless ways. The next time you are in downtown Chicago, contact us. Among other servies, we provide local on-demand parking for people who would rather enjoy their night out than spend it circling the West Loop.

ParqEx: How to Prepare Your Car for April Showers

How to Prepare Your Car for April Showers

April 21st, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, Community, mobile app, Parking, ParqEx No Comment yet

Now that Spring has (hopefully!) sprung, its time to think about putting away the heavy coats and snow pants and start getting ready for vacations and warm, sunny weather.

ParqEx: How to Prepare Your Car for April Showers

Is your car ready though? In honor of April being National Car Care Month, here is a short, but important (and often overlooked) check list to make sure your ride is warm-weather-ready.

Tires. If you opted to put snow tires on your car in anticipation of brutal winter storms, it’s time for those babies to come off the car. Why not just leave them on all year, you ask? Because those tires are made specifically to handle colder temperatures, and their tread was designed to bite into snow and ice to maintain your car’s traction. In warmer months, these tires will wear out much faster, leaving them with a short life span. In the long run, it will cost you more out of pocket to replace snow tires that have been used all Spring and Summer long. This goes for both the studded and studless varieties of snow tire.

Post-Winter Alignment: Chances are good that your winter driving included being out during several of those delightfully windy days. When winds are high, it’s natural to fight against the pull of nature via the steering wheel. After time, this necessary over-correcting causes the car’s alignment to change. It can be unnoticeable at first, but eventually you’ll notice that it’s pulling heavily to the right or left. This mean that your front end could be significantly out of whack. Have a trusted mechanic check your vehicle’s alignment and fix it if needed.

That leads us to shocks and struts. Potholes and cars are natural “enemies” and if you’ve rolled over a few of those, then your mechanic should check out your shocks and struts to ensure that they don’t need any parts replaced. They can usually check on this at the same time they are checking your alignment.

Brakes: During the winter of 2015, you probably found yourself using your brakes more than usual, given the slick conditions. This equals more wear and tear on the brake pads or discs. A professional mechanic should check out brakes, pads, and the rotors to make sure they are still in good working order. Having brake pads wear out on you can cause expensive repairs down the road (no pun intended), especially if you end up with metal-on-metal and damage the rotors.

Wash your ride. Most places use salt or sand on the roads to help with traction. There is a 100% chance that if your area uses salt or sand, then it has caked itself along the rocker panels and undercarriage of your car. It’s a good idea to give your four-wheeled baby a good bath at the end of Winter to make sure that salt doesn’t corrode the metal, and to clear out the caked sediments. Running your vehicle through a trusted car wash should do the trick.

While you’re at it, vacuum your floor mats and trunk space as well. They are probably loaded with road salt and sand as well from your shoes or snow boots. If you have a light-weight car, you may have sand bags in the trunk as well, and it’s time to find them a home until you need them again. A little Spring cleaning can go a long way in keeping your vehicle healthy and on the road for years and years. Regular service maintenance, as well as this handy post winter check list will ensure that your ride is ready for the warm months, whether you’re hitting the cruising scene or taking a road trip to ring in the Spring.

ParqEx: Poor Transportation Options Have More of an Impact Than You May Think

Poor Transportation Options Have More of an Impact Than You May Think

April 14th, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, Community, Parking No Comment yet

Transportation used to be simple.  If we got from point A to point B, we would consider it a success.  As society developed, so did our transportation needs and desires.  Cars gave way to more cars and trucks, and the need for public transportation rose as our society spread out.  Many of the issues that have arisen due to this are not only caused by the need to reach more distant destination, but also with congestion in the cities and business hubs.

ParqEx: Poor Transportation Options Have More of an Impact Than You May Think

Poor transportation options, lack of mobility, and parking failures have just as many indirect consequences as they do direct.  Not only are means of transportation now a symbol of status, but lack of transportation can, for example, prevent someone from attending a job interview and therefore doom them to a lower status for life. When 30% of city traffic is made of cars looking for parking, it often does not even matter why they are there anymore.  King or pauper, traffic is the great equalizer as it can turn the most mild-mannered citizen into a snarling beast.  It wastes people’s time and puts the general population in a collective bad mood.  Below are several other ways that traffic and transportation issues can have an impact.

Poverty

In Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s book Move: Putting America’s infrastructure back in the lead, she highlights several transportation challenges that all people face. One area in which there is specific focus is in regards to inequality and discrimination.  She discusses how not only are the poor individuals who cannot afford to live in big cities being punished for doing so, but also any chance to improve their lives is impeded by crumbling infrastructure that provides obstacles in getting places.  Furthermore, the lack of public and government support in fixing these areas or providing affordable parking options highlights the social injustices that perpetuate poverty.  The poorest areas often have the least options, and this applies to transportation just as much as anything else.  They will miss out on opportunities while also being unfairly labeled as lazy and irresponsible.

Environment

By 2035, 2-3 billion cars will be driving on our roads and drivers will spend 20 to 40 minutes a day on average looking for parking. This has already had a large negative impact on the environment and increased CO2 emissions.  Theoretically, there are approximately 3 to 8 parking spaces available for each car on the road, but that does not seem like the case when we are driving around looking for one.  People waste gas and emit harmful fumes while circling around looking for that perfect spot on the street.  More traffic/less parking = more cars on the road for longer = pollution.  Some cities have instituted systems allowing more control over the flow of parking and traffic.  This has resulted in a better general quality of life, better air quality, and less congestion. In Barcelona, a new sustainable mobility plan has reduced traffic, created more control over public parking, increased revenues, and many new jobs.

Financial

Our country’s transportation issues have a direct impact on the economy because it makes U.S. manufacturers far less competitive globally. It does this by making it more much more expensive for other countries to use our services. It is no secret that not all manufacturing takes place in the United States, and with traffic-filled streets, congested shipping ports, and airport that are stretched incredibly thin, working with the U.S. is becoming less and less appealing.  This will of course impact our economy and job growth negatively because in addition to impacting appeal, it affects delivery times and sales.  While this does not always impact the individual directly, it will when these companies have to close and lay off their employees for reasons that have nothing to do with performance and everything to do with infrastructure.

Parking and transportation issues seem simple, but they can easily bleed into the rest of our society. Contact us to learn more about these issues and to reserve parking so that you will be part of the solution and not the problem!

ParqEx: 3 Tips and 3 Apps For Your Spring Break Traveling

3 Tips and 3 Apps For Your Spring Break Traveling

April 7th, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, Community, Parking, ParqEx No Comment yet

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are starting to rise — spring is definitely in the air. That can only mean one thing — Spring Break! Thousands of people will be doing a lot of traveling within the next few weeks. To kick things off and get your travelling juices flowing, here are 3 apps to help you with your Spring Break travels.

ParqEx: 3 Tips and 3 Apps For Your Spring Break Traveling

  1. TripIt – This travel app does it all. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails (for hotels, car rentals, air travel, etc) to TripIt, and it will turn them all into a custom itinerary for you. You can edit that itinerary as needed, and share it with others in your party. You can do all this with the free version of the app. If you want TripIt Pro, you can also see flights in real-time, locate alternate flights, and you’ll have access to VIP travel benefits that can save you money.
  2. ParqEx – Whether you’re planning on a visit to Chicago, or you’re going to be leaving your Chicago home for a sandier, saltier destination, this handy parking app is a must-have. If you are visiting Chicago, you can use this app to make sure downtown parking will not put a crimp in your travel style. You can rent a parking spot for the duration of your trip, and not spend an arm and a leg. If you are leaving town, and you currently own a parking spot, you can rent that spot out and let it make you a little extra souvenir money while you’re gone.
  3. BringFido – For those of you who wish to travel with your four-legged furbaby, this app will be your new best friend (after the furbaby, of course!). You can search for pet-friendly hotels, dog parks, and vet clinics in and around your travel destination. There are tons of resources about travelling with your pet, and information about what you need to know if you’re looking to fly with your furry companion.

Now that you have your apps downloaded, let’s take a look at three things you don’t want to forget to do before you leave on your trip.

  1.  Don’t let your mail pile up. – Mail that is piling up can be a big tip-off to thieves that there is no one home. Make plans to have your mail picked up by a neighbor, friend, or family member. If that isn’t doable, you can also make a request with USPS to have your mail held. You can schedule a hold anywhere from 30 days in advance, all the way up til 2 a.m. CST the day you’re leaving. Bear in mind that the postal system isn’t open on Sundays so you won’t be able to make your request on that day.
  2. Get a pet-sitter. – If your pet isn’t traveling with you this time, or if you have a pet that isn’t much of a traveler (like an aquatic pet), you will want to allow plenty of time to get a pet-sitter scheduled. Leave detailed instructions for the sitter about food, treats, play time, known anxieties, medications, etc. It’s generally a good idea to have the sitter come over a few times before you leave to allow your pet time to get used to them. You will also want to leave your contact information and your vet’s contact information in a central place should the sitter have a question or an emergency.
  3. Let your bank know where you’re going. – Giving your bank a head’s up that you will be using your card in a new location can prevent them from freezing your funds. A lot of banks will monitor where (in what city) your card is used, and if an unfamiliar place pops up, they may stop all transactions to make sure it’s you that’s using your card. If you live in Ohio, and you’re going to Florida on vacation, by letting them know in advance where you will be heading, they won’t freeze your card when they see charges in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia — they’ll know the general direction you’re going in.

If you have questions about Spring Break travelling, feel free to contact us with them. Please let us know, also, if you have any questions about using the ParqEx app, or about how ParqEx works. We want to help you have a happy and safe Spring Break!

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