Imagine the scene if you will, you’ve arrived at the airport and can’t wait to be relaxing by the pool, only you’ve got a problem, a major problem, your meet and greet parking company hasn’t turned up.
You’ve rung them and have been told to wait 5 minutes and someone will be there. Only, it’s now 30 minutes later, and still no one has appeared.
You’re stuck; your kids and luggage are in the car and you’re flight leaves in 90 minutes. You’ve no option but to park in the car park – the one you’re in; the short-stay car park; the most expensive parking option there is, but you need to check-in.
So, what seemed like a great option for parking your car – and not too expensive – has turned into a nightmare – an expensive nightmare. After all, you’re now running so late that you risk missing your flight, and you’ve twice had to pay for parking!
Think this is an isolated case? Sorry, but it’s not. There are far too many companies offering cheap meet and greet services through smart-looking websites that don’t live up to expectations. It’s happening at many UK airports, not just at Gatwick.
Meet and greet parking is extremely popular and has seen a significant increase in customers in recent years. This rise in popularity has seen a number of new companies enter the market, keen to take a slice of the action. However, the availability of land licensed for airport parking is limited, so many of these new companies simply don’t have registered car parks, some operate from industrial estates, while others have been known to park in fields, at the side of local roads or in residential areas. Many companies have insufficient staff to maintain a proper service too, hence the waiting times experienced by some customers.
With the school half-term holiday nearly upon us, Help Me Park, a Gatwick Approved meet and greet parking company has issued the following advice on how to ensure you book with a reputable company:
While it can be difficult to determine whether a company is reputable or not just by looking at its website, there are several things to look for that will indicate whether you’re dealing with a reliable company.
Look for logos that identify membership of professional bodies or professional accreditation, such as:
Buy with Confidence
The Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme now covers meet and greet parking and is a good indicator that you are dealing with a reputable business.
Look for the logo, or check your local Trading Standards website for a list of Buy With Confidence approved parking companies.
Safer Parking ParkMark Award
Managed by the British Parking Association, the Safer Parking ParkMark logo identifies companies whose parking facilities have been vetted and approved by the police – the police actually visit parking sites. The Safer Parking Scheme requires that certain measures be put in place to help deter criminal activity, anti-social behaviour and help prevent crime.
Once awarded ParkMark approval, car parks are assessed annually to ensure high standards are maintained.
Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme
If you’re flying from Gatwick, look out for the Gatwick Approved Operator Scheme.
The scheme was introduced in July 2013 in an attempt to clean up the meet and greet industry at the airport. The Approved Operator status identifies companies that have proved that they can provide a high level of professionalism and service.
In order to become an Approved Operator parking companies must meet the following criteria:
- Hold the ParkMark safer parking award for all their car parks serving the airport
- Have obtained Trading Standards Buy with Confidence accreditation
- Sign up to the Approved Operator scheme
Only companies that are members of the Approved Operator Scheme are permitted to operate on the airport’s forecourts.
Gatwick Airport strongly advises against using a parking company that is not an Approved Operator.
Currently there are only eight companies that are Gatwick Approved. In 2013, when the scheme was introduced, Gatwick Airport estimated that there were in the region of 150 companies providing meet and greet parking at the airport.
By selecting a company with the above logos on their website should mean that you are booking with a reputable company.
Help Me Park, the provider of this article, is offering Airport Blog readers the chance to get 10% discount on their Gatwick meet and greet parking with the code: aiBlog