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The Parking Spot attracts in-flight travelers via mobile coupons

Airport parking chain The Parking Spot is enticing travelers by displaying QR codes that lead to mobile coupons in airline magazine ads.

The QR code is displayed in ads within the in-flight magazines to avoid consumers tearing out an ad for a coupon. If a traveler scans the QR code, he or she will be directed to a mobile microsite that offers a coupon at the nearby parking lot.

“The Parking Spot launched a mobile website in February 2013, which made it possible for mobile coupons,” said Katie Turner, marketing manager at The Parking Spot, Chicago.

“With the launch of the mobile Web site, all Parking Spot facilities can now accept mobile coupons from customers,” she said. “Customers can simply present the cashier with the coupon on their smartphone, and the cashier applies the appropriate discount to their final parking fee.

“With the ability to scan the QR code and download the coupon on mobile phones, travelers are more inclined to leave the print ad in the in-flight magazine rather than tearing it out so the coupon is available for the next flyer.”

In-flight coupons
The Parking Spot features the QR code in the following in-flight magazines: American Way, United Hemispheres, Delta Sky, Southwest Spirit and US Airways.

Copy next the code reads, “Scan QR code when you land for coupon.” The coupon is good for 15 percent off at The Parking Sport with a Saturday night stay and 10 percent off without a Saturday night stay.

There is also a print coupon next to the code that travelers can tear out, but if the traveler chooses to use the mobile coupon instead both the company and the consumer win.

If the traveler does not tear out the ad, that means that the next traveler will still be able to see the ad. Additionally, the traveler does not have to worry about carrying around a piece of paper that might get lost.

One challenge with the QR code, though, is that unless a traveler pays for Wi-Fi, he or she will have to scan it before takeoff or after landing.

There is also certainly a risk that a traveler may pick up the magazine during takeoff and see the ad, but forget about it when the plane lands and there is free Wi-Fi access or 3G.

However, the ability to use a mobile coupon over a physical coupon may be able to offer enough incentive for a traveler to remember.

Mobile parking
Other parking companies have utilized mobile in a similar way.

For example, SmartPark JFK rolled out a mobile Web application that lets consumers place parking reservations via their smartphone (see story).

Last year, Cocoa Beach, FL went so far as to only allow mobile payments for parking (see story).

When it comes to airport parking, there seems to be a lot of competition, so it makes sense for The Parking Spot to lure in travelers with mobile coupons. It can help them stand out in this crowded market.

“Mobile is important to The Parking Spot because travelers are now using their mobile phones for a number of traveling purposes including finding and booking off-airport parking for a trip,” Ms. Turner said.

“The Parking Spot’s mobile Web site allows customers to make a reservation, find a coupon, access their Spot Club loyalty program and find a location.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York