07.11.2023 Going to a car park needn’t be an unpleasant experience

July 11, 2023

We’ve all been there – we’ve struggled to negotiate tight bends in a car park and then been unable to find our car when we’re ready to go home. Customer experience is not something many people think of when it comes to car parks. But it really can make or break a building.

This is especially true in busy, touristy towns and cities, like Bath, where the town centre car park can often be a visitor’s first experience of the place. It’s vital we get it right. A car park renovation is not just about preserving the building and creating beautiful designs, it’s about making sure it does its job as a car park. And with just a one star Trip Advisor rating from customers, it was clear that Bath Podium was falling well short.

Making the right first impression

At Bath Podium, the entire customer journey and experience, from first entering the car park and parking your car to exiting at the end of your stay, was badly designed and was simply not fit for purpose.

People could enter from a number of different levels and there was no need for a ticket. This was not only confusing for customers, it was also a major security risk and meant there were often rough sleepers seeking shelter in the building. As a result, the building needed a 24 hour security patrol, which didn’t create a great first impression.

Today, people can now only enter at street level thanks to the new stair cores, making it much easier to find your way around the car park – you always know where you go in and out. The new ticketed parking payment system includes ticket machines at each of the new enclosed stair cores, so that only those with a ticket can gain access, significantly improving security. This also made paying for parking a lot easier and more user-friendly and has resulted in an annual cost saving as the building no longer needs the security patrol.

Bold, modern signage is key to success

And then there was the signage and wayfinding. The old wayfinding was confusing and at times completely inaccurate, with different levels indicated in the lifts to what was described on the level itself, making it very difficult for people to find their way around.  We recommended a new wayfinding strategy, one that was clear and legible, especially important for international tourists or those visiting Bath and the car park for the first time.  We used a striking, supersized, clean font and a bold colour coding system on the walls and decks to achieve this.

Each floor level is now coded in a different colour, with pink for Level B1, Green for Level B2 and orange for level B3. This not only gives the car park a modern, bright and more welcoming look and feel, it makes it much easier to navigate around. Our designs also hugely improved the disabled parking bays as the existing ones did not comply with building regulations. Now they provide plenty of space for disabled users to manoeuvre in and out of the bays and to access Waitrose and street level. 

Driving made easy

And then there was driving around the car park. The ramps to the car park were difficult to drive down and cars were continuously getting scratched. The driving aisles were no more than 5.2m between the parking bays, well below the 6m standard, which meant some vehicles had to occupy more than one space at a time. Originally, thermo plastic lines were placed directly on the concrete deck surface to create the parking bays, which made them difficult to see, especially now that wear and tear was taking its toll.

To solve these problems, we replaced the edge protection and located it on top of the upstand to minimise any obstruction into the driving aisles. We also changed the vehicle circulation, avoiding the low headroom areas and to make it a lot easier to make your way around the car park.

The lighting and ventilation systems were also fully replaced so that the entire building was well-lit (nothing makes people feel more unsafe than a poorly lit car park) and you could breathe easily with exhaust fumes no longer able to build up and pollute the air. All these changes have contributed to a new 3.5 Trip Advisor star rating from customers for Bath Podium.