SpotHero Mobile App Makes Finding Parking Easy, Convenient, Fun
Just a few weeks ago, local internet start-up SpotHero, with very little fanfare released their mobile parking app almost exactly a year after the company’s website first went live in July 2011.
The company, between winning awards, prizes and accolades for its concept has been growing its list of parking properties in their roster and now represents nearly 100 parking lots and garages in Chicago. In just over a year, the company has grown from its three founders to 10 full time employees and is entertaining the idea of expanding the SpotHero concept to other cities.
“If you’re driving in Chicago and not using SpotHero you’re missing out,” says SpotHero co-founder Mark Lawrence. “When we started SpotHero we wanted to make parking easier for ourselves and others. We want to make the parking experience much easier.”
The app, which is free to download, was two months in development according to Lawrence and is currently only available for iPhone users.
“It’s pretty simple,” laughed Lawrence, when asked why there’s no Android version so far. “Everyone at SpotHero had an iPhone–no one had an Android phone.”
How It Works
SpotHero’s new app allows for drivers to locate and price (often deeply discounted) parking on the fly via their iPhone and in real time. So we took SpotHero’s mobile app for a test drive recently to see firsthand how the technology works.
Up until now, it’s been difficult for drivers to find parking lots or garages near their destination and at the same time compare pricing. For example, most people driving downtown will get close to they need to be and then start looking for parking garages. Often the signs with pricing can be confusing and the time/price increments arbitrary and often expensive.
After driving up and down and around a few blocks looking for the best place to park for 30 minutes, most people throw up their hands in frustration and pull into the next lot they see.
What SpotHero’s app does is allow drivers to input the address of their ultimate destination. Then utilizing the GPS functionality of the iPhone, a map on their screen is then generated flagging the many parking garages and lots SpotHero represents with the cost of parking at each location.
This lets motorists find the option best suited for you and reserve the spot in advance.
We used the app on the way to a theater performance near Water Tower Place recently. After we input the address of the downtown venue, a multitude of available choices popped onto the screen showing us a range of parking fees within a short distance of where we were going.
In our case, we could have saved a few bucks parking four or five blocks farther from the venue. But, with two young children along for the ride, proximity outweighed the minimal cost savings. If we wanted a more convenient option just steps from the venue there was one available. However it was a lot more expensive than the garage we ultimately chose just two blocks away–a middle road choice we made between convenience and cost.
What was really impressive was locating and reserving our parking space in the car on the way to the event.
While my wife drove, I shopped and booked the space. It took just a short few minutes. After reserving the spot, the attached notes gave us specific directions on how to find and enter the parking structure. So instead of wasting time driving in circles to find parking, we literally rolled to the parking garage we selected.
SpotHero Has Changed The Parking Experience
While we were impressed with the robust technology and convenience SpotHero’s app exhibited, we had but one minor criticism. As an early SpotHero adopter via its website, we had already had a credit card number on file. But when we logged into our account on the mobile app, we were asked to re-input the same credit card info on file. A very minor inconvenience that is heavily outweighed by how incredibly easier finding parking in Chicago has now become with SpotHero’s app. It is safe to say SpotHero’s technology has the potential to radically change the way how drivers deal with the frustrating challenges of parking in the Windy City.
“What were most proud of is that it’s easy,” says Lawrence. “You know where you’re going to park and how much you’re going to pay. Using the GPS I can see where I can park. Instead of driving to a location and driving in circles you know exactly where you’re going. This changes the whole experience of coming downtown. You don’t leave with a bad taste in your mouth from a bad parking experience.”
So far, Lawrence says response to the brand new app has been good with over
1100 downloads with virtually no publicity.
“Feedback has been very positive,” says Lawrence as his face breaks into a smile. “I’m happy, we’ve done a great job.”
If you drive in Chicago, SpotHero’s mobile app is an absolute necessity for surviving the mean streets and parking challenges of the city.
Download the SpotHero app here.