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Survey Design 55 Communications The best and easiest way for survey staff to communicate with one another (interviewer to supervisor, for example) is by cell phone or walkie-talkie. This eliminates the cumbersome use of courtesy phones (assuming there is a telephone in the field office that can be called from a courtesy phone) or the wasted time of walking around trying to find someone. Provisions need to be made for sufficient devices and for charging them as needed. Parking As airports are well aware, parking is expensive. Arrangements for parking for members of the survey team who are not on the airport's staff need to be made well in advance so they are in place when the survey starts. Provisions also must be made for parking tags, vouchers, or validations for those working early or late shifts when airport managers are not available. If arrangements are made for off-site parking, the team will need to consider the extra time staff will need to get to the airport, both in terms of scheduling and in terms of wages. Weather Conditions If the survey is being conducted outdoors (such as a survey of meeters and greeters or one of drivers), plans should be made in case of inclement weather. In hot weather, it is important to provide water. In the cold or rain, provision needs to be made for shelter and possibly for extra breaks to "thaw out." Material and Equipment Appendix C provides a checklist of supplies and equipment that will be required for the typ- ical air passenger survey. This list can be adjusted to meet each survey's needs and circumstances. Scheduling of Interviewers At least two shifts per day will usually be necessary because of the long hours that airports operate. The staffing schedule should avoid staff being assigned to a late-night shift followed by an early-morning shift. The schedule should also allow enough time for staff to move between the different survey locations. 4.6 Selection and Training of Field Staff 4.6.1 Quality of Field Staff When hiring temporary staff, it is important to remember that generally "you get what you pay for." The more the airport is willing to pay for interviewers, the higher the level of com- petence of the interviewers who will respond and, with careful selection of candidates, the higher the quality of data that will be collected. The length of the temporary commitment is also important. Trying to get competent and experienced interviewers for one or two weeks of work will be considerably more difficult than getting and keeping the same interviewers for two months. Dealing with a contractor for temporary staff can introduce a different dynamic. Some con- tractors will have a pool of experienced, quality interviewers, but others will have just as much difficulty finding and keeping interviewers as the survey sponsor would. However, there will be a mark-up associated with the contract. The competence of the interviewers is a function of the final rate of pay, not how much is paid for their services to the contractor. It may seem that a high labor rate should attract good interviewers, but it is the final wage being paid to the inter- viewer that will attract quality interviewers, not the rate listed by the contractor.
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56 Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys Qualities to look for when selecting interviewers include the following: Given the difficulty of attracting · Professional and educational background. well-qualified interviewers, par- · Experience in conducting airport surveys. (Experience in conducting ticularly for a fairly short duration, surveys at other transportation facilities can be a substitute.) the best approach may be to · Presentable dress and appearance. retain a market research firm to · Motivated, driven to perform, and willing to take up a challenge. provide the survey staff, prefer- · Strong interpersonal skills, friendly and outgoing, and willing to approach ably a firm with extensive airport people. survey experience. Such firms will · Able to understand what data are being collected, and why. generally be able to call on inter- · Willing to pay attention to detail to ensure good data are collected. viewers that they have used for · Able to cope with long periods standing and lots of walking. other projects or that they employ · Comfortable using electronic devices, if such devices are to be used. on an ongoing basis. They can be · Fluent in the desired language(s). made responsible for scheduling · Able to obtain a security clearance. the field staff and providing field supervision. They may also have interviewers working on other 4.6.2 Interviewer Training projects who can be assigned to If interviewers are to be used to conduct the survey, they will need to be the survey as needed to handle trained. Training considerations will probably apply primarily to intercept peak periods or replace absent surveys; telephone surveys are likely to be conducted by a call center already interviewers. Interviewers who staffed with trained interviewers. This section therefore focuses on training have a long-term working rela- intercept interviewers. tionship with a particular firm are also much less likely to quit Training is not an area in which the survey team should be looking for unexpectedly. cost savings. Although many factors contribute to the success or failure of an intercept survey, skilled interviewers are mission critical. In addition, there are so many unique aspects to airport surveys that the training session should be mandatory, even when interviewers have already been trained by an outside vendor. The technical expert and field manager are likely to be the persons providing the training, and all field supervisors should also attend. It is a good idea for the project manager to attend as well, because sometimes that person can answer questions no other team member can. In addition, the project manager can identify any areas where the training is insufficient and point these out to the trainer before it is too late. Training should always take place at the airport. This location will not only facilitate the air- port tour (discussed in the following subsection), but will also expose interviewers to the con- ditions in which they will be working. It is better for interviewers who are taken aback by the distances involved in getting from gate to gate, or who are surprised by the prices of the food in the airport concessions, to find out sooner rather than later. 4.6.3 Content of the Training Session A sample agenda for a training session is provided in Appendix D. This outline can be expanded, shortened, or modified to meet a survey's particular needs. After introductions of the survey team and the interviewers, the training should begin with a dis- cussion of the purpose, goals, and objectives for the survey. Ideally, this should be considered in the context of actions to be taken and decisions to be made; enthusiasm for the project on the part of the project manager is also beneficial at this point. If people understand why they are doing what they are doing and how important it is, they are more likely to be motivated to do a good job.
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Survey Design 57 Having spent some time on "what's in it for the survey sponsor," the next part of the training should be devoted to "what's in it for the interviewers." People are always eager to learn about such basics as work hours and days, shifts, pay rates, and the like. Once they know what they are going to get out of participating in the survey, they will be more likely to pay close attention to what follows. The next part of the training should deal with expectations, including everything from pro- ductivity and quality to behavior, attire, and grooming. People need to know what the rules are, so they can put what they are supposed to do into the appropriate context. The next part of the training is typically devoted to basic interviewing skills. (The Bibliography lists some useful interviewer training manuals developed by the Council for Marketing and Opinion Research and Marketing Research Association.) Even if the project is being staffed with previously trained and experienced interviewers, it is wise to include this topic in the training by labeling it as a review. The quality of interviewer training varies considerably from firm to firm, and it is possible that the survey team will have higher standards than the firm from which the interviewers are drawn. After the interviewers understand the requirements of the job, it is time to go over the specifics. In this part of the training session, the questionnaire should be reviewed question by question. Any questions that could prove challenging for interviewers to ask or for respondents to answer should receive special attention. After the questionnaire has been reviewed, the use of devices that will be utilized in the survey (such as electronic data collection devices or laptops) should be taught. A tour of any airport facilities or services that are referenced in the survey, whether passenger amenities or ground transportation services, should also be included. This tour will also orient staff to the layout of the airport and the ways to get from one place to another. By the end of this part of the training, interviewers should know exactly how to conduct the survey. The final step is to have them practice, first by interviewing one another and then by con- ducting practice interviews with passengers or other target respondents. The results from the lat- ter should be reviewed by supervisors to ensure that they are accurate and complete before the interviewers are released to conduct actual interviews. 4.6.4 Duration of Training If the interviewing team is focused, it is possible to conduct an acceptable training session in a day, and a one-day training session appears to be the general practice. There is, however, a large amount of material to master, even for experienced interviewers, and fatigue can be a problem. In an ideal world, training would probably be spread over two days, with perhaps six hours of instruction and practice per day. While two days may seem costly, the expense could well be off- set by increased efficiency and accuracy of the interviewers during the actual survey, particularly during the first few days. Having interviewers familiarize themselves with the questions and sur- vey procedures during the actual survey not only reduces the survey completion rate (increasing the cost per completed survey) but also runs the risk of generating poor quality data until the interviewers gain experience. 4.6.5 Coaching and Retraining Even the best training session is not foolproof, and even a highly competent interviewer can fail to grasp an important point. It is therefore extremely important that everyone's work be checked on a daily basis, particularly during the first few days of the project. Later work can often be spot-checked, but early work should be reviewed constantly.