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CHAPTER 6 Applying Market Research to Airport Ground Access This chapter focuses on the role of market research in planning public transportation services to airports. After an overview of market research techniques, an approach is presented that uses geographic and demographic information to better understand potential ground access markets. The Role of Market Research Market research is used in all sectors of today's economy to identify and target selected markets, to gain a competitive edge, to classify and retain customers, and even to determine the lifetime value of selected customer groups. With an ever-increasing number of products and services, the con- sumer market has become highly fragmented. Increasingly, it has become important to identify and target selected groups of customers rather than trying to serve the entire market (45). In the same way, classifying airport users according to factors known to affect ground access decisions can help airport managers understand how different types of public transportation service will appeal to targeted customer groups. By providing a detailed understanding about the access needs of airport users, market research can help airport managers plan successful pub- lic transportation services. This chapter outlines a method for identifying, classifying, and under- standing the airport user on the basis of his or her ground access trip to and from the airport. Characteristics of the Airport Ground Access Market The previous TCRP studies established that there is no single market for ground access ser- vices to airports. Instead, there is a series of submarkets, or market segments, each of which has distinct and documentable characteristics. Very often, it is necessary to create distinct services for separate market segments; marketing, pricing, and promotion will usually vary by targeted market segment. For example, at Japan's Narita Airport, three rail companies offer service at three separate ticket price levels, while a limousine bus company caters to international visitors. At London's Heathrow Airport, the original combination of a good rapid transit service plus frequent buses was augmented by the addition of the higher priced Heathrow Express premium rail service. In Paris, French decision makers are now determining the best strategy to add a new premium CDG Express to the existing combination of commuter rail and specialty bus service from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. In New York City and in Chicago, airport ground access planners are examining the idea of adding additional, higher priced rail services to supplement the present shared rail services to their airports. To plan such services, market researchers typically use a two-step process: first, they examine overall patterns to look for strong geographic markets; second, they apply a more fine-grained demographic segmentation for the specific market identified. 135