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CHAPTER 3 Assessing Customer Needs and Preferences Airport operators use information on customer utilization, needs, preferences, and satisfac- tion to evaluate the performance of their parking program in relation to their goals and objec- tives, to understand how the program is performing and why, and to implement or fine-tune their parking strategies accordingly. The different types of data used by airport operators to eval- uate their parking operations are described in this chapter, as are ways to collect and analyze the data using focus groups, stakeholder groups, customer surveys, and airport staff experience. Data Collection and Analysis Data captured on a routine basis, as well as supplemental data collection on an as-needed basis, can be used to analyze patterns, trends, and changes in the behavior of parking customers. These analyses can provide information on patterns of use, but they do not explain the reasons for customer preferences. Examples of statistics that may be useful for analyzing airport-operated parking operations include the following: 1. Parking transactions compared to airline flight schedules, 2. Customer durations in parking facilities, 3. Occupancies by facility or product, 4. Counts of customers on the airport parking shuttle, 5. Counts of facility entering and exiting volumes, 6. Customer place of residence and distance traveled (obtained from license plates in certain states), 7. Average revenue per transaction by facility or product, and 8. Distribution of customers by payment method and by parking facility or product. It is helpful to analyze these data at different times of the year to understand seasonal and daily variations in parking activity, including demand during peak and off-peak periods. Comparisons can be made with passenger use of other access modes (or trends in this use) obtained from sur- vey counts of taxicab dispatches, private vehicle traffic, customers on privately operated off-airport parking courtesy vans, or informal surveys of the use of off-airport parking facilities. For some analyses, additional data are helpful to develop meaningful comparisons among similar customer groups, such as data gathered from surveys of O&D airline passengers. Focus Groups Focus groups are useful for obtaining opinions and perceptions of customers or potential cus- tomers regarding a product or a service. Focus groups--especially those conducted on airport parking products and access modes--are typically conducted by a moderator, last for 90 to 10