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144 Passenger Air Service Development Techniques Marketing efforts may be particularly difficult to assess. Determining the Survey results extent to which various advertising or marketing campaigns produced a desired effect may require some form of passenger survey. Although some The study team asked each airport smaller airports may have staff capable of designing, implementing, and ana- to assess the effectiveness of its lyzing surveys, most small airports contract out for their marketing cam- ASD efforts on a scale of 0 to 100. paigns. The study team would strongly suggest including some evaluation or The average self-assessment score feedback as part of the contract. Professional marketing firms are better able was 80. However, nearly three out to survey target markets to determine the penetration of their messages. of four respondents gave them- University economics and business departments also may be able to provide selves a score of 100. There was lit- some assistance. tle difference among non-hub and small hub airports. Of the 41 air- ports surveyed, 40 indicated that the ASD technique(s) they used When should an evaluation be conducted? were appropriate. Airports and communities must stay attuned to the aviation industry. Significant events can unfold rapidly, and communities need to be prepared to act accordingly. Therefore, airports and communities may need to reassess their goals and strategies on an ongoing basis, as circumstances warrant. Ideally, an evalua- Changes in the overall national economy, soaring or fluctuating fuel prices, decreases in capac- ity, and bankruptcies are ongoing issues with significant implications for an airport. It is most tion would be valuable for an airport to track its various air service performance measures regularly, as the data completed by a become available, so that it can base decisions on current information regarding how the ser- neutral third party vices are operating and passengers are responding. not directly involved There are two competing considerations to weigh with any evaluation. On the one hand, ASD efforts should be evaluated on an ongoing basis. Practically speaking, if some aspect of the pro- with the ASD pro- gram is simply not working, it makes no sense to wait several months to make adjustments. gram's design or On the other hand, ASD initiatives and service improvement efforts can take several months implementation. to develop. It also can take additional time for any change to be recognized and acted on by the traveling public. Travel patterns and habits can be very difficult to alter. (This reality is the under- lying basis for establishing travel banks and minimum revenue guarantees.) Evaluations may An annual evalua- need to allow several months for the public to understand and appreciate the differences in ser- tion is suggested, vice options that are available at the airport before they accept and act on them. after which the This time lag between service change and public reaction is particularly true if the goal was to airport and com- improve the reliability of service. Several months may be necessary first to determine whether the service has in fact improved noticeably and then confirm that any improvement is not tran- munity can assess sitory. How passengers react to improved service reliability can be even more difficult to assess. whether to revise Many passengers who feel as if they were stranded or delayed "one time too often" may be reluc- tant to use the service for quite some time. its plans. Ongoing evaluations will thus inevitably be preliminary. It would not be fair to judge the results before the service has had time to mature. The study team suggests an annual evaluation after which the airport and the community can fully assess the effectiveness of the ASD program and begin to make new or revised plans. Why do stakeholders need to be informed? Stakeholders--particularly those who have invested time and resources into the ASD program-- deserve to understand how well the ASD effort worked, and whether adjustments will be needed.