City Hotel Reservations

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by City Hotel Reservations's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from City Hotel Reservations is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.chreservations.com

1CITY HOTEL RESERVATIONS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
A software-driven airport
parking agent
We work with the ten
busiest airports in the UK
CEO of City Hotel Reservations, Robert Flouty, founded the
business in 2003. Back then, it took a slightly different
shape; it was largely a family business that offered
airport hotel bookings and parking reservations as packages
to travellers flying out of Gatwick. Now turning over £14.5
million, Robert and his team have turned their focus exclusively
to aggregating parking for ten UK airports. He expands on their
business model and tells
The Parliamentary Review
about his
team’s focus on what comes next.
The ten airports we work with are the ten busiest in the UK. That’s:
FACTS ABOUT
CITY HOTEL RESERVATIONS
»Director: Robert Flouty and
Daniel Millar
»Established in 2003
»Based in Ongar, Essex
»Services: Airport parking and
hotel booking agent
»No. of employees: 10
»Earmarked by Google for
10-times growth over the next
2 to 3 years
City Hotel
Reservations
»Heathrow
»Birmingham
»Gatwick
»Manchester
»Luton
»Bristol
»Stansted
»Edinburgh
»Glasgow
»London City
We are, really, an online business; while we do take phone bookings, more than 98
per cent of our clients come in from the internet. The principle is very simple; after
spending a lot of money developing our own bespoke booking platform, we can
now sell parking through it.
We own the domains for heathrowparking.com, stanstedparking.com,
birminghamparking.com – and so on and so forth. After redesigning the software
and rolling it out across these ten websites – especially considering the valuable
SEO potential of each URL – we started to experience serious success.
Although this process has been underway for six or so years now, we are not
complacent – we have been constantly updating and modernising the software for
each of these sites since first introducing it.
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| CITY HOTEL RESERVATIONS
Our system is very straightforward,
working primarily on API systems.
The API basically “searches” parking
providers’ systems to determine
availability and pricing, and then feeds
back to our own website to process
bookings. It’s all automated, and it’s all
incredibly quick.
Working through a variety of
household names
We have partnered with a number of
suppliers including NCP and MAG at
Manchester and Stansted, and are either
the top or second-biggest independent
third-party provider of bookings for
their airport car parks. We are also the
only airport parking intermediary with
Trading Standards approval.
Acting as an intermediary, our function
is basically as an agent. Given our SEO
positioning – when someone Googles
“Heathrow airport parking”, for
instance, heathrowparking.com ranks
very highly – we have experienced
considerable success in this capacity and
are expanding rapidly to that end. As
an example of our growth, we have just
completed a deal with Liverpool airport
and the site will be coming online soon.
Demonstrable growth and
partnership with Google
account managers
Airports are always growing, too –
that’s something that really works
in our favour and contributes to our
success at existing sites.
Over the next two years, we’re also
planning on rolling out sites for
another 11 regional airports across the
UK with insufficient parking coverage.
This rapid growth has only been
made possible by our partnership with
representatives at Google; we’ve had
the pleasure of working with some
excellent account managers, who have
only helped us to grow and increase
conversion rates.
Our sites are highly authoritative and
their relevance only continues to
increase, ensuring higher click-through
rates than ever.
Park – the household name
Where we have experienced some
challenge, however, is in remarketing.
We currently have 300,000 opt-in
GDPR-compliant customers that we
email twice a week, constantly offering
discounts and money off. Although
that does return some limited success,
we do presently have to send emails
from ten different brands.
To resolve this, we want to unite all
current and future domains under one,
simple umbrella brand: Park.co.uk.
We’ve purchased the domain name
and are currently working on branding;
having noticed there’s no household
name 21st century equivalent to the
giants of Uber and Deliveroo for parking,
we want to focus on creating an ultra-
simple and user-friendly app that will
appeal to customers new and old.
Consider someone who has used our
services at Heathrow that also flies
occasionally from London City or
Stansted. They may not realise that
Technology drives our
business
The ten
airports we
work with are
the ten busiest
in the UK
3CITY HOTEL RESERVATIONS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
we also offer parking there. Under the
Park brand, however, it would become
instantly and immediately obvious that
we cover the different airports.
The first phase will be rolling out the
Park brand over current and future
airports, but we do have ambitious
plans to expand beyond that in the
next two to three years. We want Park
to become the only parking app people
will ever need on their mobile and are
looking at forming partnerships with
such providers as RingGo, MiPermit
and PayByMobile while also developing
our existing relationships with brands
such as NCP.
The endgame is simple: we want to be
the go-to brand for any parking in any
location for any duration.
Challenging loans,
monopolistic airports and
partnership with Google
The first major obstacle we
encountered was funding. We have
had some astronomically expensive
loans in the past – and when you’re
looking at growth capital, the last
thing you need is a significant interest
rate. Growth and increased cashflow
have helped in recent years, but if we
had means of funding ourselves more
efficiently – beyond loans or private
equity – this would have really helped
in the early stages.
The second obstacle is one we still face
today – the parking supply. Many of
the airports themselves are actually
quite monopolistic; I appreciate their
approach, and I appreciate they don’t
have an unlimited supply of parking
stock, but often their attitude towards
intermediaries can be aggressive.
We, of course, relish and appreciate
the opportunity to work with airports
and will continue to do so, but
slightly tighter or clearer regulation
could make the process somewhat
morestreamlined.
Finally, while our work with Google
has been so beneficial, and I can’t
thank our account managers enough;
we are so unbelievably integrated
with their operations. They’re such an
important channel for new businesses,
and it is a cause for potential concern
that they are completely unchallenged
in that online space. It’s certainly
something that start-ups need to
be aware of when entering the
ecommerce marketplace.
Becoming the standard
We would like to see airports open
up and be more willing to trade with
intermediaries rather than being
so protective, and we would like
to continue our work with Google
to further mutual benefit, but our
sights for now are firmly set on one
thing: establishing Park as a brand
and becoming the household name
forparking.
To achieve this, we are dedicated to
continually improving our technology
and driving further efficiencies. Further
airport regulation would of course
be welcome, but our success in this
market so far only serves to inspire
us to continue to grow, develop and
serve the parking needs of Britain –
andbeyond.
We are
dedicated to
continually
improving our
technology
and driving
further
efficiencies
We want to be the
go-to brand for parking
in any location for any
duration

www.chreservations.com

This article was sponsored by City Hotel Reservations. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster