Groningen-based Parkos, which is currently growing faster than ever, was already active in 15 countries. Recently, the booking platform for airport parking spaces added the United Kingdom, with support from NOM. 'If Parkos had not been hit so hard by the corona crisis, external funding would not have been necessary this time either.
For years, travel enthusiasts Arne Bos and Peter Bosma shared their experiences on their own travel websites. In 2011, the websites were merged into Travelmap, the travel portal of Groningen entrepreneur Henk Jan Bijmolt. Arne, Peter and Henk Jan became proportional shareholders. When Henk Jan chose to focus entirely on his successful online garden wood store Gadero, they decided to buy Travelmap. 'In the period that followed, we came up with and implemented several new concepts,' Arne says. 'At one point we had dozens of websites live, including langparkerenbijschiphol.nl. Too many, we thought. Rather, we wanted to focus and do one thing very well.'
The choice was actually quickly made. Because increasingly Arne and Peter were getting questions about safe, reliable and affordable parking at airports such as Schiphol, Eindhoven Airpoirt and Rotterdam The Hague Airport. At the same time, they regularly heard reports about bad experiences with parking providers. That official car parks at airports were expensive, not infrequently even more expensive than the plane ticket, and alternative providers sometimes simply parked the cars at supermarkets. So a lot went wrong in the market, while there were huge opportunities. For Arne and Peter reason enough to start Parkos, a platform where you can book an airport parking space and compare providers on such things as price, distance and ratings. Good to know: Parkos itself does not own the parking lots. It is purely a mediation platform, similar to Booking and Uber.
It was a hit. Parkos had been doubling in revenue and bookings every year since its inception in 2014. Until corona put an abrupt end to that exponential growth. For a while, as it turned out later. Because when air traffic resumed in the spring of 2021, the growth of the Groningen-based scale-up was immediately back in full swing. 'We've been operating well above pre-corona levels ever since,' Arne emphasizes. 'Of course, corona has taken quite a hit. From one moment to the next, almost all reservations were cancelled, including those for the high season. We were convinced that in time the market would normalize again and made good use of our time. Among other things, we connected many new parking lots in several countries. The parking lots at airports were almost empty, so everyone had time to talk to us. We also added the necessary functionalities to the platform and put a lot of effort into marketing. That worked out fine.
Parkos is an ambitious and stable growing Groningen company with a proven business model. Klaas Kooistra, investment manager NOM
Global market leader
With its recent growth figures, Parkos is sending a clear signal that it is on course to achieve its ambition: to become the global leader in airport parking. While the company was already active at airports in 15 countries before the corona crisis, in Europe, Australia and the United States, the United Kingdom was recently added. 'We had been looking at opportunities there for some time,' says Arne. 'Simply because the UK is one of the largest markets in Europe. In our opinion, the time was ripe to open up that market too. Normally we first take a country manager who approaches local parking parties. Now, however, we didn't want to wait for that. That's why at the end of last year we crossed the channel ourselves with some colleagues to tell providers the Parkos story. The response was very positive, with the result that we were able to connect the first parking lots. Indeed, the first bookings are already in. And also, the vacancy for a country manager has now been filled.'
On its own
To make the market introduction to the United Kingdom possible, contact was made with NOM. Investment manager Klaas Kooistra did not have to think for long about providing funding. 'Parkos is an ambitious and stable growing Groningen company with a proven business model,' he says. 'For some time it was even among the fastest-growing companies in the Netherlands. That resulted, among other things, in winning a Gazelle Award and a top-10 position in the Deloitte Fast 50. What I find particularly special is that Arne and Peter did everything under their own steam. So without external funding, really nothing at all. That says a lot about the quality of the platform and above all about the growing demand for affordable and reliable parking near airports. Had Parkos not been hit so hard by the corona crisis, external funding would not have been necessary this time either.'
Once started at Schiphol Airport, Parkos is thus rolling out the platform further and further around the world. To do that as thoughtfully and energetically as ever, new personnel are more than welcome. Or rather: the company is diligently looking for good people. From programmers to designers and from customer service staff to an HR and finance manager. 'We are also looking for an account manager for the Italian market where we are growing very fast,' says Arne, 'Our plans for the near future? Before corona, we were busy expanding in the United States. If the relaxations come through, we will focus on that again. A huge market where we are still relatively small, but where we can still make great strides.'