Using Social Media to Assess Your Parking Identity

Bruce Barclay

A question I ask myself from time to time is how the traveling public views the airport’s parking and shuttle service? Is it merely a means to an end or is it viewed as a valuable component to the overall airport experience? As Salt Lake Airport’s parking manager, I believe we are a valuable asset, but with only a few options to gauge customer feedback we are left with a customer service conundrum.

Guest satisfaction surveys and comments to our webmaster via email are the traditional methods for feedback, but customers don’t always care to respond in this fashion and their voice is not heard. They may share their experience with relatives and friends, but not directly with us. We wanted to be able to hear firsthand from our customers to better measure our level of service, and address the areas where we may fall short.

Last May, Salt Lake City International Airport added a public relations and marketing manager to the staff. One area of responsibility she was tasked with was developing our social media programs, which hadn’t been done due to staff constraints. She began to tweet important information regarding the availability of space in our garage, which fills up weekly, along with information regarding our upcoming terminal redevelopment project. Within a few weeks, our social media platform grew and gained momentum.

In just a few short months, our Facebook followers have grown to more than 13,000, and we have more than 2,500 followers on Twitter. Although we know those are not huge numbers, the increase over such a short time has been dramatic. Even more impressive is the fact we are now getting timely feedback from the public, especially as it relates to parking and shuttle services. The messages received have given us greater clarity on the level of service we provide on a daily basis, and allow us to share passenger experiences with employees and their supervisors. Just as importantly, we can easily respond to all social media communication—positive and negative—in an expeditious fashion. By establishing a foundation of communication with the Salt Lake community, we are quickly finding out what our identity is, and how we are perceived by the traveling public.

So…what’s your identity? Comment below.

Airport Redevelopment: The Effect on Parking

Bruce Barclay

Construction projects can be challenging for parking operations in all segments of the industry. The rerouting of existing and/or construction of new roadways, building of new terminal space, construction of rental car facilities, and of course, building new parking facilities can all have an effect on airport parking operations.

Salt Lake City International Airport’s Terminal Redevelopment Program will contain all of the above projects, plus a few more. Commencing in June 2014, SLC will begin a $1.8 billion project that will last more than five years. The challenges our parking operations will face during that time are not unique to SLC; many airports (universities, municipalities, and medical center campuses) will encounter them throughout various phases of construction. They include:

  • Planning: Airport master plans outline short, medium, and long-term development plans to meet future aviation demand. Looking into the crystal ball by way of aviation demand forecasts is helpful, but  events can change that demand, (think September 11, 2001, and the recession of 2008-2009). How many garage levels and spaces are optimal for now and into the future?
  • Facility design: The need to rightsize the design for present and future needs is critical. The old “Field of Dreams” adage of “If you build it, they will come,” may not hold true.
  • Marketing: Replacing obsolete facilities will necessitate educating the traveling public on the benefits of redevelopment. Community outreach and partnerships will help get the word out. An open-house format is effective in engaging the public and soliciting their opinions.
  • Construction: How will customers react to reconfiguration of traffic routing and shuttle routes?
  • Maintaining customer service levels: How can you maintain the high service standards you have in place while construction is ongoing?
  • Market share: How can you maintain market share and prevent leakage to off-airport competition?

The above are only a few of the challenges faced during a lengthy construction project. Each of these may ebb and flow as work continues. It is imperative that parking professionals stay involved in as many aspects of the construction process as we can. Ultimately, our operations will be affected; if we are not prepared, the consequences can be severe.

Can EMV Protect us from Cybercriminals?

Bruce Barclay

By now, we have all heard of the upcoming transition to “smart chip” technology for credit cards. The U.S. is one of the last countries to move to EMV chip technology–we are in year two of a four-year plan for the migration, with a target date of October 2015 for card issuers and merchants to complete their implementation of EMV chip cards, terminals, and processing systems.

The migration cannot come soon enough for many consumers. Consider the Target breach from November/December 2013. Target said the attackers gained access to customer names, credit card/debit numbers, expiration dates, and CVV security codes. The Wall Street Journal reported the thieves accessed the data from the magnetic stripes on the back of credit and debit cards. Would this have been the case if the U.S. was already using chip technology?  Experts say no.

At a recent Congressional Subcommittee hearing, Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, testified about cybercrime in the U.S. In 2013, data breaches became more damaging, with one in three people receiving a data breach notification letter. This is up from one in four during 2012. The increase in cybercrime against retailers is partly due to the fact that magnetic stripe card information is valuable to hackers.

The black market price for several million card accounts stolen from the Target breach was between $26.60 and $44.80 each prior to December 19, 2013. EMV chip cards can reduce financial cybercrime by removing the economic incentive for criminals. Once we replace magnetic stripe cards with EMV chip cards, the risks of duplicated data and counterfeit credit cards will become a thing of the past.

IPI’s webinar, EMV and its Effect on the Parking Industry, will take place today at 2:00 p.m. EST. Sign up and plan to take part. Click here to read Vanderhoof’s testimony.

 

 

Every Day a Holiday? Maybe Soon for Airports

Bruce Barclay

Think back to the days when going to Grandma’s house for the holidays meant a quick drive across town. Today, it may mean driving to the airport, finding a parking space, and boarding a plane to get across the state or even the country. Maneuvering through airline checks and TSA security challenging enough–especially this time of year–but finding a parking space at the airport can be just as difficult.

Parking at airports for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas presents unusual challenges. Travelers are looking for deals on airfare and the lowest priced parking available, so they are willing to park in the lower-cost economy lots. The large influx of parkers in a span of a day or two often fills the economy parking space, forcing the operator to pack vehicles into every nook and cranny in the lot. When that fills, overflow lots and other creative parking measures are implemented. Most parking managers are happy to contain the traffic into their facilities and maximize the revenue for the holiday period.

What if this pattern became the norm and not just a holiday event? A recent article in USA Today cites a study projecting that within a decade, 24 of the 30 busiest U.S. airports will become as congested twice every week as they are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Several airports will experience the holiday-style crush twice weekly in as little as three years. Why will this occur? More people are traveling and airline consolidation has funneled more passengers through key hubs. Experts worry that if the congestion is not addressed at these airports, longer security lines, delayed flights, and unhappy consumers will be the result. Airport master plans will accommodate the necessary infrastructure to meet the demand for more gates, parking, and ancillary facilities. The larger question that needs to be asked is, what are the ramifications of this congestion, and how will it affect parking at these airports?