John McCarthy, left, Earl Nelson & Jeffrey Martinez

The Fast Park & Relax remote parking team for Hobby Airport strives for the highest caliber customer service with the sense of a family whose members first had quite different jobs.

The company’s facility at 8202 Hansen Road off Airport Boulevard, a 5-minute drive to Hobby Airport, opened in October 2016. The Hobby location, part of a nationwide enterprise, takes special pride in its friendly and attentive staff.

“It’s a family company,” said Jeffrey Martinez, guest ambassador for the Hobby Fast Park & Relax, describing the mindset that produces the closeness and helpfulness workers feel for customers and each other.

Martinez interviewed for his position in 2017, not long after the facility opened. The interview started with an emphasis on how much customer service means to the company, he said.

Earl Nelson, a Fast Park shuttle driver, came on board in June 2018, after 30 years of working corporate jobs.

“Every day is an adventure,” he said. “I don’t want to leave at the end of the day.”

Traveler parking is a big business at airports, making it a competitive industry. Long-term parking facilities compete with each other as well as with taxis and ride-share options.

So it makes sense that a company like Fast Park & Relax would encourage a culture of customer service to gain an edge.

Employees like Martinez and Nelson fit right in. So does John McCarthy, a Fast Park driver since November 2017. Like Nelson, he came to the position after a career in a very different industry; he worked as an AT&T repairman for many years.

McCarthy has had his share of interesting guests. One is a regular customer who goes by the name “Mama Goose” – and she dresses the part, accompanied by her royally-clad husband, AKA Papa Goose. She is a professional storyteller and a frequent Fast Park customer. Taking the couple to Hobby is like “a Fast Park carriage ride,” he said.

Recently, McCarthy had a busload of bowlers returning from a Las Vegas tournament.

“They filled up my luggage rack with bowling balls,” he explained.

Kelly Carnahan, Fast Park’s regional marketing manager, said some Hobby flight crews even prefer Fast Park over complimentary airport parking.

The location went through difficult times when the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reduced passenger travel. The staff was cut to two or three workers per shift. Even when they were able to resume shuttle service, social distancing was mandatory, requiring the use of more buses and trips.

Also, McCarthy said he especially enjoys helping guests who need extra assistance because of their reduced mobility or other issues.

“We also enjoy helping people who aren’t tech-savvy,” Martinez said.

The assistance is important because some elements of the business lately require more tech tools. The facility went cashless recently, and there will soon be new technology for processing transactions at the parking lot exits, involving tablets and license plate readers.

One thing will likely never change for the Hobby Fast Park & Relax staff – their enjoyment of working with their customers.

— by Ruth Nasrullah