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Richmond International Airport Case Study

SP+ Airport Services has made significant improvements to the Richmond International Airport parking and shuttle operations since taking over in 2008. We substantially reduced operating expenses through a combination of improved shuttle schedules/routing and other operating efficiencies. Upon assuming operations, we were tasked with rectifying multiple issues inherited from the previous operator – the most glaring being a culture that allowed and accepted unsatisfactory customer service and constant budget overages. Years later, our current combined operating budget remains lower than the budget that was in place prior to our 2008 transition.

The first step in changing the culture was the placement of an experienced airport General Manager who made providing all customers with an exceptional experience the number one priority.  All staff was re-trained and provided with the necessary ongoing training and tools to meet the new high expectations set for them through courses available at SP+ University focusing on customer service and our “Three Keys to Customer Satisfaction.” Other strategies implemented to improve customer service include the use of a mystery shop service and customer surveys. These tools allow the General Manager to track the customer service levels and identify specific areas for attention and improvement.

The previous operator approached staffing with a “one-size fits all” philosophy which meant that the busiest time of day had the same staffing levels as the slowest time of day. We use information from the revenue control software and passenger counts to tailor staffing to meet the needs of the various traffic levels that occur throughout the day. This approach produces a more positive customer experience by providing more resources during peak traffic times and reduced payroll costs by eliminating excessive labor at nonpeak times.

Through our team of experts, we designed and recommended a plan that provides bumper-to-bumper service for the newly expanded “B” Lot created in 2011.  Following acceptance of our plan, we worked closely with Airport staff to implement this extremely popular service enhancement. In addition to improving the Economy parking experience, we were able to cut operating expenses and reduce carbon emissions by switching from a fixed-route system (where buses continually circulate) to an on-demand system where buses stage and pick up passengers as they arrive at the facility or return at the terminal.  The introduction of the bumper-to-bumper service dramatically increased the level of customer satisfaction at the remote lots with no negative budget affect. The enhanced service also allowed the Airport to better compete with off-airport parking options.