Steamboat Springs Travelers at Yampa Valley Regional Airport last ski season were more satisfied than not with the airport, according to a survey commissioned by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
On a scale from 1 to 10, attributes such as availability of desired flight dates, airport terminal cleanliness, airline employee service, security check procedure and directional signage received average scores of 8 or above. Flight costs and airport concession services - with average scores of 6.8 and 6.2, respectively - were the attributes that satisfied customers least.
With a few exceptions, the 2006-07 survey results improved, or at least stayed level with, results from the previous two ski seasons. Considering that the airport terminal was largely under construction last year, officials are pleased with the high scores and optimistic about this year's performance.
"I was tickled pink," Ski Corp. President Chris Diamond said. "Those folks at the airport work very hard under the radar screen. They really deserve a lot of credit. They just did a great job managing through the construction."
Diamond gave a presentation on the airport survey at this month's meeting of the Yampa Valley Airport Commission. Commission member Paul Hughes, like Diamond, was pleased with the results, but he noted areas for possible improvement.
"All things considered, this is good; but there are some things that we can do better and they are within our ability to do better," Hughes said.
One thing Hughes said could improve customers' experience at the airport is the availability of wireless Internet access to give people something to do while they wait.
"We think if we can arrange to get that in place before the ski season, that will make people happier," Hughes said.
Diamond said he hopes to improve communication efforts regarding ground transportation to the airport. Diamond said it is important to spread security demand over a reasonable period of time but that some passengers don't realize that and are miffed at how early Alpine Taxi's shuttle service takes them to the airport.
"I think Alpine Taxi takes an unfair hit for that," Diamond said.
The survey results contain plenty of other interesting - and for airport and ski area officials, possibly useful - information. Half of YVRA's passengers reserved their flights online last ski season. Only 15 percent of passengers spent less than $1,000 during their visit. On a scale from one to 10, 48 percent of passengers said they were extremely likely - a score of 10 - to recommend Steamboat to a friend, family member or colleague. Twenty-six percent of passengers have an annual household income of $250,000 or more.
The survey also shows information that is reflected in Ski Corp.'s strategy for this year's winter air service program. The survey showed that 58 percent of passengers rated the availability of air service directly to YVRA as "extremely important" to their decision to come to Steamboat. This year, there will be nonstop service from 10 major airports, the most ever.
According to the survey, Steamboat drew visitors from the New York area market more than any other. Passengers from the New York area accounted for 13 percent of the survey respondents. Next was the Dallas-Fort Worth market with 4.5 percent. Ski Corp. has negotiated a new 183-passenger flight from New York's JFK Airport on Saturday, and service from New York's LaGuardia Airport will expand from six Saturdays this past ski season to every other Saturday throughout the 2007-08 season. Combined with service from New Jersey's Newark Airport, YVRA will provide Saturday flights with a total capacity of 490 passengers from each of New York's three major airports.
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