For truckers on the road, finding a secure truck parking spot has long remained an inconvenience. Highway parking lots are unavailable much of the time, with spots being pre-booked at many locations or reserved on a monthly basis. The story is not different across Europe either, with drivers facing similar inconveniences to that of their U.S. counterparts, as they seek a safe parking at the end of their day.
Truck Parking Europe, a startup based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, has created an online platform that helps truck drivers plan their routes through Europe by showing them available secure parking on the way, and also allowing them to book their spots online. Drivers can use this service through the company’s mobile application or via a desktop, with fleets being extended this functionality as well.
Niels de Zwaan, the CEO of Truck Parking Europe, explained that the idea behind the start-up was borne out of his observations of the issues associated with truck parking while he was in Germany with his family on a skiing trip.
“I noticed when I stopped for gas that there were many trucks parked on the laybys on the German motorway, with the parking area being completely full. But then 10 minutes later, I noticed a large parking lot outside the motorway where 50 percent of the spaces were empty,” said de Zwaan. “This led me to think about creating a mobile application that could help drivers find alternative parking that is not along the motorway.”
In the four years since its inception, Truck Parking Europe has expanded from displaying around 9,000 truck parking places to over 34,000 parking spaces, making it a unique database across Europe. “All the bookable parking spots we provide are secure. We have direct relationships and continue seeking them with the operators of secure truck parking and also with branch organizations like the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA),” said de Zwaan.
Today, Truck Parking Europe is the largest platform in the segment with over a million application downloads and offering 41 bookable parking lots across Europe.
“Initially, when we were gathering information on truck parking, we noticed that the amount of cargo theft in Europe is huge. Cargo theft accounts for over €8 billion ($9.02 billion) every year and is one of the reasons why so many truck drivers look to use our solution for securing a safe parking spot,” said de Zwaan. “Our users are spread across 13 countries and can identify parking spaces across Europe through our app. We provide secure and bookable parking along all nine main transportation corridors in Europe.”
de Zwaan mentioned that the feedback the startup has received from its drivers has been very positive, with the app being rated 4.5 out of 5 on Google Play. Truck Parking Europe strives to improve based on information that it receives from the truck drivers. To get more insights into trucker needs, the company visits exhibitions and conducts surveys through its app and through social media to gain more perspective.
For instance, several truckers sent in queries to the start-up asking if they could help them identify truck parking spots that provide them with washing machines to clean their clothes. And based on this demand, Truck Parking Europe introduced a feature that can help drivers identify parking lots that also provide services like washing machines.
“The challenge now is to keep the installs that we have and to keep up the app usage by making sure we constantly improve on the solution. If we look at the booking platform, the challenge is to make sure we have enough supply and demand on both sides,” said de Zwaan. “On the one hand, we need to make sure that we have enough bookable truck parking, and on the other hand, we need to ensure that we have enough relationships with dispatchers in Europe that are willing to make bookings on the platform.”Volkswagen recently acquired majority ownership of the company, holding 75.1 percent of Truck Parking Europe’s shares, which de Zwaan stated will give the business a huge boost. The startup has also introduced a new concept called “depot parking” – an AirBnB-like model for truck parking.
The idea behind depot parking is to get dispatchers across Europe who own parking lots to look at temporarily renting out their parking spaces when their trucking fleet is out hauling across Europe. “Everyone always says that there’s not enough secure parking anywhere, but if you get transportation companies and dispatchers to rent their depot parking to other truck drivers, it can be a win-win situation,” said de Zwaan. “The depot parking can now be done through our app. It is an interesting concept for the market, and we have gotten excellent feedback for this.”