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Survey Planning

    The survey planning process will produce a sampling schedule showing the number of comment cards and time of the day that cards should be administered during each day of an eight-week primary sampling season. A sampling schedule for an optional secondary sampling season can also be produced for Visitor Centers that elect to survey the optional secondary sampling season.

    The planning process has been automated in a survey planning tool called the Survey Schedule Generator for Visitor Centers. This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet tool is specifically designed to help Project personnel create standardized survey plans for Visitor Comment Card surveys. Please review the remainder of this section before attempting to run the Survey Schedule Generator for Visitor Centers.

    The Survey Schedule Generator for Visitor Centers is designed to be downloaded to and run from your personal computer. Click here to download the current version. (Do not run this program from the server. To download the Generator, right click on the link and select “Save link target as” to save file to your computer).

    Open the program by clicking on the Excel file icon as you would to open any other file or program. After opening the Excel spreadsheet, read the important information and instructions on the “Intro” worksheet to ensure that you will be able to run the pre-programmed features of the spreadsheet on your computer. When you are ready to plan your Visitor Center customer satisfaction survey, click on the “Get Started” button in the upper right-hand corner of the page to open the “Start” worksheet. You are now ready to begin.

    The Survey Schedule Generator for Visitor Centers is organized into nine steps for those planning to survey the primary sampling season and 12 steps for those planning to also survey the optional secondary sampling season. Each step requires you to select or modify information about your Visitor Center or select options that will determine the characteristics of the survey schedule(s) you create.

    Step 1: Select a Project from the pull-down list.
    Locate and click on the name of your Project. Your Project, District, and Division should then display in the adjacent project information area.

    A project that did not have Visitor Center data in OMBIL as of Feb 2007 will not appear on this list. To develop a survey schedule for a Visitor Center that is not identified in OMBIL, select “Other Project” from the bottom of the list.

    Step 2: Select the Visitor Center you wish to survey.
    Selection of a Project will populate the information work area in Step 2 with the names of all Visitor Centers on your project, plus the associated monthly visitation for FY05. Most Projects have one Visitor Center; however, some have as many as four. If the Visitor Center name(s) display in bold type, a corresponding message in red will indicate: “Note: A Survey is required for one of the Visitor Centers at this Project.” If the Visitor Center Name(s) display in normal text, the corresponding message will indicate “Note: Surveys are optional for the Visitor Center(s) at this Project.” These messages will indicate whether or not the comment card survey is required for a Visitor Center on your project. If a comment card survey is not required on your project, you may still choose to conduct one.

    At the present time, you will be required to survey not more than one Visitor Center on your Project, even if more than one is shown in bold type in the work area in Step 2. You can survey more than one if you wish. The monthly visitation shown for each Visitor Center may help you choose which one you should select. Select the Visitor Center you wish to survey using the radio buttons to the left of the Project name. You must choose a Visitor Center even if only one is listed.

    If you could not find your Project in the pull-down list in Step 1, the work area in Step 2 will contain no Visitor Center name or visitation data. In this case, you can enter your Visitor Center name and monthly visitation manually.

    The Visitor Centers listed in the survey planning tool were identified from data available in OMBIL and RecBEST. The list may not include any facility mistakenly identified in OMBIL as a recreation area rather than a Visitor Center. A Visitor Center that is not listed in the survey planning tool, but is known to meet or exceed survey threshold conditions, should participate in this survey.

    Step 3: Select sampling months for the primary and secondary sampling seasons.
    Many visitor centers have a main recreation season corresponding to months of high visitation and a mix of vacation and other types of visitors. The two-month period that best corresponds to the main visitation season should be selected as the primary sampling season. You can indicate these months by checking the boxes corresponding to them. A survey during the primary sampling season will fulfill the sampling requirement for Visitor Centers that are required to conduct the visitor satisfaction survey.

    A number of Visitor Centers have expressed a desire to collect additional data during other times of the year. For this reason, the survey includes the option to schedule additional data collection during a secondary sampling season. If you wish to survey during a secondary season, in addition to the primary season, check the boxes corresponding to the months you wish to survey. If you do not wish to survey a secondary sampling season, do not check any of the boxes for the secondary season.

    Several Visitor Centers expressed a desire to define a secondary season as the shoulders of the primary recreation season in order to obtain feedback from school groups in the spring and seniors in the fall. For this reason, the months selected for the secondary season need not be consecutive.

    The survey of the primary sampling season will require administering 160 completed comment cards during the course of the sampling season. A survey of the optional secondary sampling season will entail administering 160 additional comment cards.

    Step 4. Enter the average day-of-week visitation anticipated during the primary and secondary sampling seasons.
    Sampling effort averaging 20 completed comment cards per week will be allocated among days of the week in proportion to the number of visits that typically occur on the different days of the week. In this step, you should enter the percentage of the visitation you expect to receive on each day of a typical week. Percentages across the days of the week should sum to 100 percent. Data should be entered separately for primary and secondary sampling seasons.

    If the Visitor Center is typically closed on one or more days of the week, enter values of zero for those days. No surveys will be scheduled on these days.

    If you choose not to survey during the secondary sampling season, enter values of zero for every day of the week of the secondary season. This will suppress computation of a sampling schedule for the secondary sampling season that occurs in a later step.

    Step 5: Select Visitor Center opening and closing hours during the survey season.
    The sampling schedule(s) you produce will assign the times of day at which the comment card should be administered on each day of the sampling season. Surveys may be scheduled for any time starting beginning one after opening and one hour before closing. In this step, you should enter the times of day the Visitor Center opens and closes during each sampling season. You can enter separate times for week days (Mon-Fri) and weekend days (Sat-Sun).

    If you open on the quarter, half, or three-quarter hour, select the next hour as the opening time for that season. If you close on the quarter, half, or three-quarter hour, select the previous hour as the closing time. If you are open for fewer than 3 hours on a given day of the week, no surveys will be scheduled for that day of the week.

    If you indicated zero visitation on weekend days in Step 4 (i.e., you are not open on weekends), any opening or closing times you specify for weekend days will be disregarded when the survey calendar is computed.

    Step 6. Observe the number of completed surveys that should be obtained each day of the sampling season, and then generate a corresponding survey schedule.
    Inspect the sample size table to verify that the distribution of completed surveys across the week is appropriate for the data you entered in Step 4. The daily sample quota should be approximately proportional to the distribution of visits in a typical week. Also, there should be no samples indicated on days that the visitor center is closed. If you find any irregularities in the distribution of samples throughout the week, revise the data you provided in Step 4, then return here to observe the changes.

    Once you are satisfied with the sample allocation shown in the table, click on the button shown to generate the survey schedule(s).

    Survey schedules for the primary and secondary sampling seasons will be placed in different work sheets, labeled “Primary Sampling Season” and “Secondary Sampling Season,” respectively. When you click to generate a survey schedule, you will be immediately taken to the sampling schedule on the “Primary Season” worksheet.

    Step 7. Identify and insert survey dates (Primary Sampling Season)
    Refer to a calendar to identify eight weeks within the two-month period you wish to survey. Enter dates in the “Date” column that correspond to the weeks you selected. Verify that the days of the week indicated in the “Day” column correspond to the days of the week for the dates you entered in the “Date” column.

    If surveying eight consecutive weeks, you can greatly expedite manual entry of dates by using the Excel fill handle as follows:

  • Identify and enter the date associated with the first Monday of the sampling season. The date entered as 06/05/2007, for example, will display as 05-Jun-07 in the default display format after it has been entered. Now select the cell containing the date by left-clicking on it once with your mouse. The spreadsheet should now appear as below. The fill handle is the small box in the lower right-hand corner of selected cell.

  • Using your mouse, hover the cursor over the fill handle until it changes into a cross (?). At this location, depress the left mouse button. Keep it depressed as you drag the fill handle across the remaining cells of the “Date” column you want to fill. As you finish dragging the fill handle through the cells, you should see the following:

  • Now release the mouse button to complete the fill. The cells should now be filled with a sequence of consecutive dates immediately below the date you manually entered.

    Note: the next time you generate a sampling schedule in Step 6, the sample number and sampling times will be recomputed, but any dates you previously entered in the “Date” column will be retained. These must be changed manually if you wish to specify different dates.

    Step 8. Print the survey calendar (Primary Sampling Season)
    On the “Primary Season Calendar” worksheet, print a copy of the survey calendar by clicking on the “Print the survey calendar” button.

    Step 9. Save the file (Primary Sampling Season)
    If you misplace the printed copy of the survey schedule, you will need to print another one, so be sure that you save a copy of the Excel file containing the worksheets created during the scheduling session.

    You should save a copy of the Excel file containing the survey calendar(s) to your hard drive under a new file name. To save the file, click on the “Save the file” button to open the “Save as” pop-up window, and then save the file. Tip: save the file as your_project_name.xls.

    If you elected to survey only during the Primary Sampling Season, you are finished and can exit the program now. If you elected to survey during a Secondary Sampling Season, click on “Go to the Optional Secondary Season Calendar” button located at the top of the page to open the worksheet for the Secondary Sampling Season.

    Note: If you receive the error message “Run-time error ‘9’” after clicking on the button “Go to the Optional Secondary Season Calendar,” no secondary season calendar was created during the survey planning session. This is most likely because you did not specify the information needed to create the secondary sampling calendar in Step 4 and/or Step 5.

    Step 10. Identify and insert survey dates. (Secondary Sampling Season)
    Using the instructions given in Step 7, identify and enter the survey dates into the “Date” column of the secondary sampling calendar in the same way you did in the primary sampling calendar.

    Step 11. Print the Calendar (Secondary Sampling Season)
    On the “Secondary Season Calendar” worksheet, print a copy of the survey calendar by clicking on the “Print the survey calendar” button.

    Step 12. Save the file (Secondary Sampling Season)
    If you have already saved a copy of the Excel file in Step 8, you do not need to save it again. If you did not save it earlier, you should do so now, following the instructions given in Step 8. Afterwards, you can exit the program.

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    Updated: April 2011