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22 Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys The questionnaire needs to be reworded to allow comparison of the results with those of other surveys. 2.7 Preliminary Schedule and Target Dates Certain components of the survey project will define the critical path. Information to be derived from the survey is often needed for a specific planning application and therefore is required by a certain time to fit into that process. The hiring or contracting of temporary staff and obtaining their airport security badges is often a critical determinant of the schedule, especially for small surveys. If a contractor is going to be involved, the contractor will have to be selected several months in advance to give the contractor time to prepare and activate the requisite resources. Given a target date for starting the survey, the survey planning team should work backwards through the steps in the process, including the decision process, developing a Request for Proposals (RFP), issuing the RFP, evaluating proposals and selecting a contractor, entering into a contract, and having the contractor undertake the required activities to prepare for the survey. If contract support involves more than just providing temporary staff, such as assisting with the detailed survey planning and design, this needs to be reflected in the schedule. Depending on the size of the survey and the extent of contract support required, the target date may be several months to more than a year in the future. A number of considerations must be taken into account when forming a preliminary schedule, and these must be resolved by the survey planning team. The following is a list of points to consider: Date when the information derived from the survey is required for input into planning or other processes--relates to the purpose and goals of the survey. Lead time--the time required to complete all the survey preparation, design, contracts and other details. Season--whether survey results are needed for peak, non-peak, or shoulder activity, which depends on the uses to be made of the data collected. Seasonal traffic patterns at the airport will be a major consideration. Surveying during the Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas, or other abnormal traffic periods is generally not a good idea, unless survey results are specifi- cally required for those periods. Other surveys--whether other departments are planning to conduct routine or one-time sur- veys during the period under consideration. If possible, such dates should be avoided to reduce the "survey burden" on airport users and the potential for confusion. Weather--a consideration for surveys taking place at any outside location. Periods when very cold or very hot weather is likely should be avoided if possible. Availability of temporary staff--may or may not be an issue depending on how temporary staff will be obtained. Use of students as temporary staff will generally be easier during the summer break. Special events--dates of any known major events, such as large conferences or sporting events, should be avoided. Pre-tests and pilot tests--if planned for the survey, the time required for these must be fac- tored into the schedule. Required duration of the survey period. Time to enter, clean, and analyze the data; document the findings; and prepare any required presentations. Thorough discussion of each of these constraints will be needed to develop a realistic target date for the start of the survey. Setting a target date with very tight timelines is generally not advis-