Vonage’s Voice and SMS APIs Put JustPark in the Driver’s Seat
When JustPark was building their app to help people find the perfect parking space, they chose Vonage to help develop a fully automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system while also supporting SMS.
ChallengeDifficult working relationship with previous vendor coupled with a higher price point for added bells and whistles that JustPark did not require.
SolutionVonage SMS and Voice APIs
ResultsRobust and reliable service coupled with better value than previous vendor and better relations
Hunting for a parking spot is not only time-consuming, it can be a stress-inducing pain in the butt (literally). An August 2014 article in The Telegraph claimed that an average driver spends 106 days of their life searching for parking spaces! On a visit to San Francisco, Anthony Eskinazi was feeling the frustration of wasting too much time and energy trying to park a car on city streets. Out of that irritation, the idea for JustPark was born.
Eskinazi believed that no driver should experience the uncertainty of circling the city searching for a place to park. He founded JustPark in 2006 with the goal of making finding and reserving a parking spot as easy and convenient as using an app to order a taxi or take-out food.
For the first five years after the company was launched, JustPark focused on turning underutilized parking spaces on private properties in major metropolitan areas into spaces that the general public could use. It was a two-sided online marketplace in which homeowners and small business owners could offer unused parking spaces on their property to drivers who really needed somewhere to park.
Over the course of the next few years, the company’s vision evolved into a mobile application that now allows drivers to reserve and pay in advance for parking spaces in the area where they are going.
Today, in addition to homeowners and small businesses who have a few spare spaces to offer, JustPark partners with different companies and organizations to gain access to their available parking areas.
No potential stone is left unturned. Major parking garage companies, hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton, churches, schools, large commercial office complexes, and commercial landlords all are providing unused available spots. According to Eskinazi, “Any property that can be used to park is something we see as space that we can list on our application and offer to the general public for use.”
Currently, JustPark is matching over 1.5 million app users with over 250,000 parking spaces, helping them to save time and avoid stress.
Switching to Vonage
Ultimately, JustPark needed a vendor that enabled them to develop a fully automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system while also supporting SMS. Since not every person always has access to a mobile or online app, JustPark realized that they needed to offer multiple ways to enable all drivers to use their services.
Many customers simply prefer to use IVR, and it was important for JustPark to offer their customers a choice of channels to access their services. “We needed a solution that would give people options for payment,” explained Eskinazi. “By leveraging Vonage's platform, we were able to develop a fully automated IVR system to satisfy this requirement. It’s fast, it’s reliable, and most importantly, it’s scalable.”
Prior to using Vonage, JustPark primarily relied on another vendor. “Vonage had precisely what we needed,” said Eskinazi. “With our previous vendor, we ended up paying for a lot of features that we didn’t need, at an added expense.”
In addition, JustPark had several deliverability issues with its previous provider. According to Jeyda Heselton, product manager at JustPark, some customers had issues when using EE equipment. EE, a division of British Telecom, delivers mobile and fixed communications services throughout the UK.
“With our previous vendor, we found that, occasionally, customers with EE phones were either not getting texts or were not able to make calls to the virtual numbers,” said Heselton.
“In addition to looking for that better price point, we needed a more reliable service that wouldn’t cause problems to a large number of EE customers. When we switched to Vonage, those problems stopped.”
How JustPark Works
The application allows users to find and navigate to spaces either in real time—in seconds when they need a place to park—or in advance by reserving and paying for available parking spots. And for property owners who are able to offer available spaces, JustPark offers them a previously unexpected source of revenue. Whether it’s a private driveway in a residential area or an unused office parking lot, JustPark customizes solutions that make practical, economical sense to those who have available properties to share.
Today, using a Vonage-supported platform, JustPark drivers book their parking spots online and then receive a confirmation and transactional SMS message to confirm their purchase and provide info about their parking experience.
Although most people use the JustPark mobile app to pay, JustPark also offers an automated phone system that people can use. Eskinazi explains, “Let’s say you’re going somewhere and you know it’s a one-time thing. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense to spend a minute and a half finding the app and downloading it, then registering and then going through the payment process. For that situation, it makes sense to simply call a phone number and go through the steps by phone.”
When connecting through a phone call, a person will start by saying or entering their location ID and then, by using either Google or Amazon voice recognition, they “transcribe” the stated license plate or registration number of the vehicle.
Payment information is transferred via Vonage’s Voice API which leverages secure protocols to protect the payment information being transferred on the phone line. After the transaction is completed, the user receives a confirmation text. “In addition to supporting our online function, Vonage is also really integral to our phone and booking services,” said Eskinazi.
Vonage Delivers Greater Value and a Better Working Relationship
According to Eskinazi, “We wanted flexibility so that, as we generated more revenue, the cost per minute or cost per text message would go down accordingly. Our last vendor told us, ‘Look, you need to commit to X amount per month. We need you to sign a secured two-year contract.’ But that just didn’t work for us. I really appreciated that Vonage was understanding of what we needed. The Vonage solution delivered a 25% greater ROI to start with. We anticipate that, as we grow the relationship and we generate more revenue, this ROI will increase even further.”
In addition to cost savings that led to greater ROI, Eskinazi stated that he appreciates the improved communications he now has in his interactions with Vonage. “The relationship with our Vonage account manager feels like a much more human relationship than what we previously experienced. I feel confident that Vonage understands what we are looking to achieve from the relationship—along with the commercial benefit—and will continue to provide the secure, reliable, and cost-effective service that has allowed us to scale.”
“I really appreciated that Vonage was understanding of what we needed. The Vonage solution delivered a 25% greater ROI to start with. We anticipate that, as we grow the relationship and we generate more revenue, this ROI will increase even further.”
ANTHONY ESKINAZI, Founder and CEO of JustPark