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“As crazy as it sounds, we saw a guy in Southie, who usually books for an hour or so, but he booked a spot that was only available hourly for four days in a row at 120 bucks,” Golub said. “It shows that people are willing to pay a good amount not to shovel out or worry about their car getting towed or ticketed or what have you in storms like this.”
SpotHero saw similar jumps in demand for its service, Mosbacher said. On Monday, when the snowfall began, the company recorded a 400 percent increase in reservations compared to a typical Monday.
People were staying longer, too.
“Our average reservation time in Boston on a normal Monday is about 12.8 hours, which means people are reserving a spot for the workday,” he said. “But we saw on this specific Monday that 34 hours was the average reservation time—so a lot of people were saying, `Uh oh, I need to park overnight.'”
SpotHero also saw demand shift to parking garages that were close to other transportation options. As the storm approached, SpotHero’s top garage in the Boston area was an indoor facility near South Station, a major transit-service hub—“and it’s not always our top garage by any means,” Mosbacher said.
These kinds of services are likely to continue growing in cities around the country as money pours into tech startups and consumers realize they can save time and money by scouring the physical world for resources the way they also search the Web for information.
Perhaps even more interesting is the ability for everyday asset-owners to make money by renting out their unused property to strangers, and letting a middleman like Spot take a cut for the trouble.
Perry Geyer, who owns Cybersound recording studios in Boston’s upscale Newbury Street shopping district, was one of the earliest parking-spot owners to rent out a space on Spot’s system.
Parking along Newbury Street is basically divided among ultra-cheap curbside parking that’s always packed, and expensive private garages that can easily add $40 to a trip downtown. By offering a sometimes-unused parking space at his studio, Geyer said, he can make a little money by aiming at the considerable gap between those two prices.
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