TAMPA — Limiting the impact of a $1 billion construction project at Tampa International Airport will get more challenging as work progresses. But, to date, thousands of customers surveyed say the work has had almost no negative impact on their airport experience.
“We have a chart. We have literally been tracking customer satisfaction every day, all the way through the day,” said Chris Minner, vice president of marketing for TPA. Members of the Hillsborough County Hotel Motel Association visited the airport Friday for an update on the massive master plan project expected to be ongoing through October 2017.
“When we started with shutting down one train to Airside A and to Airside C, only 1.7 percent of customers said they were negatively impacted” by the construction, Minner said. “With the roadway work, 60 percent noticed, but only 2.7 percent said they were impacted.” That means 97 percent didn’t feel that they were negatively impacted in any way, he said.
A happy customer is a returning customer, Minner said.
And returning customers help fill hotel rooms, so it’s a win-win for all involved, said airport CEO Joe Lopano.
The airport is renovating and expanding its transfer level in the main terminal, adding dozens of new concessions, an indoor/outdoor terrace, then adding a mall-sized consolidated rental car facility, a new driverless train and more, all part of the first phase of its master plan, designed to carry the airport through the next 20 years.
The airport has been using its free wi-fi system to ask the flying public, in online surveys, how the construction is impacting them, averaging about 1,000 responses each day, said Kenneth Strickland, who heads up research at the airport.
“Anybody that logs in to our free wi-fi system anywhere on airport property gets the survey,” which they can take voluntarily, Strickland said. “The response has been very positive. We’ve even been surprised.”
Inside the terminal, walls have been constructed to mask what Minner referred to as “all the mayhem that’s happening behind them.” They blend in with the surrounding areas, making them almost invisible to the traveling public.
On the road leading in and out of TPA, where a taxiway is being rebuilt and the road, itself is being realigned, construction warning signs are helping to keep traffic flowing smoothly, said Al Illustrato, vice president of facilities and administration.
And 22 customer services representatives have been stationed throughout the terminal to help travelers find their way where detours are necessary.
Strickland said an aggressive social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is also helping get the word out, so customers will know, in advance, what to expect when they visit the airport.