The Ebola Report

Bruce Barclay

After watching CBS correspondent Lara Logan’s report on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, I began thinking of the effect Ebola has on the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. As of last week, there were more than 13,200 cases confirmed and more than 5,000 deaths in the three countries where the virus is widespread. Logan and her crew are finishing a 21-day quarantine in their hotel as a precautionary measure; fortunately, they have shown no signs of infection with the virus.

As much as the television story moved me to think of the situation in West Africa, I began to think closer to home and the impact the virus can have here in the U.S. Since an airport would be the primary point of entry for travelers who may be carrying the Ebola virus, the U.S. government selected five airports for entry screening: JFK, Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Washington Dulles, and Atlanta. These five airports receive more than 94 percent of the travelers departing from the Ebola-affected countries.  But, what if the individual is not showing any symptoms when they arrive at one of these airports? It is conceivable the infected person may slip through the screening process and arrive in one of our cities. What happens to the car or taxi he hires?

I’m sure there are lots of us thinking about what would happen if an Ebola-infected traveler arrived at our airports and was detained because of symptoms of the virus. Do we need to be ready for parking-area quarantine? What are the protocols for airline personnel, first responders, and EMS staff? What do our parking attendants need to know? Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control has provided guidance for personnel who may have to deal with potential Ebola infections. The CDC provides a great deal of information on its website ranging from prevention, signs and symptoms, and diagnosis, to preparedness for health care workers.

Advances in transportation technology are making the world’s population more mobile. As a result, the threat of Ebola and other diseases hitting our shores is a reality.

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.

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?

 

 

All Roads Lead to Technology

EmergingTrends_100sq

According to a new survey released today by the International Parking Institute (IPI), technology, sustainability, revenue-generation, and customer service are the top trends in the parking industry and the things most parking professionals are looking for.

The 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Survey was released at the IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., this morning. It showed that cashless, electronic, and automatic payment systems join apps that provide real-time information about parking rates and availability and wireless sensing devices that help improve traffic management as the top in-demand technologies in the industry.

More than one-third of respondents said that demand for sustainable services is a top trend, and that they’re talking about energy-efficient lighting, parking space guidance systems, automatic payment process, solar panels, renewable energy technology, and systems that accommodate electric vehicles and/or encourage alternative methods of travel. Technologies that help people find parking faster take cars off the road; an estimated 30 percent of people driving around cities at any time are looking for parking, wasting fuel and emitting carbons.

Survey participants also said that convincing urban planners, local governments, and architects to include parking professionals in their early planning processes is a priority; doing that, they said, would help prevent many design problems in final projects. And when asked where parking should be included as a course of study in academic institutions, nearly half of the survey participants said schools of urban study, followed by business or public policy schools.

The full survey can be accessed on IPI’s website.

Airport Parking Survey Takes Off

Rick Decker

It is with many thanks to the 11 members of the working group behind the recently conducted ACI-NA/IPI Parking Survey [PDF], conducted by the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), LeighFisher, and the International Parking Institute (IPI) that I share these perspectives. I wish to thank everyone involved for their contributions. I also wish to thank Peter Mandle of LeighFisher and his team for compiling and presenting the survey in a form that is easy to understand and covers the important points, and ACI-NA for their partnership.

We learned some important lessons over and above the value of the information gathered:

  • Streamlined. It is possible to streamline a survey document. It can be short enough that operators will complete it and yet gather the information necessary. This was accomplished by holding fast to our goal of only gathering the level of detail of interest to our audience – both the IPI and ACI-NA members.
  • Repeatable. A well-crafted survey that earns a good response is likely to remain unchanged for the next survey. This means the information gathered can be compared from one survey to the next to observe trends and movement in this industry. This makes the information even more valuable.
  • Collaborative. Collaboration between like-minded trade groups avoids duplicating efforts, reduces costs, and makes the most of committee members’ time.
  • Cost-effective. This type of survey work can be accomplished with current technology. We did not need to spend the expense (time and dollars) to meet face-to-face to accomplish this task.

As a member of IPI’s Board of Directors, I can share with you that IPI has made a concerted effort to collaborate on transportation-related projects with a number of trade groups where greater awareness about parking is a boon to both sets of memberships. These initiatives are proving to be very rewarding. The airport survey is just one example.

I hope you’ll download the report and learn more about airport parking — you may be surprised by what you find!