We spoke with Curtis Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Luxe, to discuss the valet app’s role in the parking industry and how they approach partnering with parking operators. Keep reading to learn more about Luxe from an insider’s perspective.
ParkingExec (PE): If someone gave you 30 seconds to explain Luxe, what would you say?
Curtis Lee (CL): Luxe is an on-demand valet parking and car services app that connects customers with available and underutilized parking inventory from our parking partners, within the urban core and on the fringe of a city.
Our trained and insured valets meet customers directly at the destination they want to go to, and park their vehicles at available parking spaces in our parking partner network. While we have people’s cars we are also able to maintain their car by offering additional services such as a car wash, gas refill and / or oil change.
We are making it simple for people to own a car and get directly to what they want to do and enjoy, by making the car ownership experience an easy and convenient experience.
PE: Where did the idea for Luxe come from?
CL: I was inspired for the idea of Luxe by my own personal mission to solve the challenge of circling the block looking for street parking. I was also living in the city and observing empty and full parking lots at different parts of any day, and got the idea of decoupling demand for parking, with supply to underutilized parking spaces, and making better use of empty parking spaces.
PE: How do you work with parking operators?
CL: Luxe partners with parking operators in order to drive real-time demand to the best possible parking assets at the right times within our parking partner network. We aim to help parking operators make better use of existing inventory, segment high value-per-ticket and price sensitive customers and place them in the most efficient use of space.
Luxe is not in the business of becoming a parking operator. We are a driver of seamless city logistics and our team is made up of traditional technology backgrounds, as well as diverse operations and logistics experts, working together with our parking partner network, to help make better use of parking real estate.
PE: I read that “as you start to scale this out, parking becomes free or close to zero.” That sounds great for drivers, but how do you justify this to parking partners?
CL: This response was in relation to a question on how the unit economics of our business model works and our ability to drive multiple parks consistently to parking spaces. Our parking partners are important to our success and as we grow they do too.
The heart of this explanation also drives to our success diversifying demand – our parking operator partners want to turn over spaces and find good ways to drive off-peak demand in areas that typically don’t see it. Luxe has become quite adept at doing just that.
Our parking industry partners recognize as we do that, the consumer trend for on-demand services is not going away and our ability to provide a sophisticated technology platform that helps connect drivers looking for instant parking options, to underutilized parking spots, means that our parking partners are able to be at capacity at all times.
PE: What does the process of integrating with Luxe look like on the operator side?
CL: The process for partnering with Luxe can be as simple or sophisticated as our parking industry partners require. It is really easy to partner with us. We have an operations team on the ground in every market and we aim to minimize the impact on operations, requiring minimal or no changes from our partners.
Luxe recognizes that demand for parking in many parking assets (not all) is often cyclical, seasonal, or time-dependent. The classic example is leveraging the seasonality of parking assets near a ballpark or stadium – during baseball season, nearby parking space is at a premium. However, during the off season, those parking lots and garages become a great place to drive Luxe demand while transient demand is low.
As far as the way our agreements with parking operators are structured, we are a flexible partner. Agreements can be short, medium, or long-term, involve reserved space or pay-per-use arrangements, and generally are designed to best serve the needs of the parking operator and asset owner or manager.
Luxe also recognizes that not every parking asset is a good match for us. If a parking garage is located on “Main and Main” in the Central Business District (CBD) and is always full of high-value transient customers, then we look deeper at our parking partners’ portfolio in order to find the better choices for both parties to work together.
PE: What is Luxe doing that no one else is doing?
CL: In order to succeed and stand out, you need to offer a product or service that truly solves for a real pain point in people’s lives, changes behavior for the better and adds real value. We believe that with Luxe we’re solving for more than parking and car services, we’re helping to shift behavior and shape the city of tomorrow where car ownership is becoming more difficult.
PE: In what parts of the country do you currently have operations?
CL: We’re currently operating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Chicago and New York.
PE: Who is Luxe’s best parking partner? Is your service designed with a specific type of parking operation in mind?
CL: We have built some tremendous partnerships with a range of parking operators, both local and national in scale.
We work with most parking operators in our six markets, and since we aim to be flexible first, this diversity is good for our operators and for Luxe because we are able to look at a diverse range of portfolios with many different properties and work with our partners to find the best property to work with in a given zone, at a given time, and for a mutually beneficial period of time or price point.
Our network of properties run the gamut across our markets and we’ve worked with industry partners to create scalable solutions for solving for any type of operation, including tight access controls in a completely automated garage in a commercial class A office building or a heavily stacked attendant or valet-controlled surface lot or garage.
We’ve learned a great deal about how to make any operation work in close collaboration with our partners.
PE: What are the three biggest benefits that Luxe brings to parking operators?
CL: Put simply, we match real-time customer demand with parking operators’ most preferred supply of parking.
- Operators can drive traffic to properties that do not see consistently high utilization.
- Operators can explicitly specify at what times or on which days/weeks/months those properties are available for Luxe if the requirement is temporal or seasonally limited.
- Operators can discontinue marketing techniques such as early-bird specials that cannibalize monthly parking rates and high-value transient tickets, and instead raise transient prices in the CBD, leveraging Luxe as a logistics solution to redirect more price-sensitive consumers to properties in their portfolio that are more affordable.
PE: How do you see Luxe evolving in the next year?
CL: We have fantastic partnerships with parking partners nationally and will continue to forge more relationships with additional partners over time as we continue to grow.
Our parking partners see the great opportunity to work with us as they understand the growing trend in on-demand services, the value consumers are increasingly placing on time, efficiency, and customer experience, and the value of our logistics engine that helps to drive traffic to them where and when they need it.
In the next year we will continue to stay the course and together working with our parking partners, focus on making the car ownership experience the best it can possibly be in close collaboration with the parking industry.
Curtis is CEO and co-founder of Luxe, an on-demand valet parking and car services app headquartered in San Francisco. After racking up hundreds of dollars in parking tickets and almost missing one too many dinner reservations from circling the block, he came up with the idea for Luxe: an easy, reliable and affordable way to park.
Prior to Luxe, Curtis was an entrepreneur in residence at Lightspeed Venture Partners, VP of Consumer Products at Groupon, Director of Product at Zynga, and held product roles with YouTube and Google. He graduated from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Berkeley.