Developing a Survey Plan
The planning process has been automated in a survey planning tool called the Survey Schedule Generator for Recreation Areas. 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. It provides guidance that will help you accommodate a number of Project-specific circumstances that might otherwise make it difficult to execute the survey.
The Survey Schedule Generator 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 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 is self contained on the “Start” worksheet.” It is divided into four steps. Each step requires you to select or modify information about your recreation areas and the survey plan you wish to develop.
Step 1: Select a Project from the menu of available Projects. This will populate the work area in Step 3 with a list of all Corps-managed recreation areas on the Project and associated visitation statistics for each area. The source data are from OMBIL.
Projects that have no Corps-managed recreation areas should not be listed in the Survey Schedule Generator. These projects need not participate in the Comment Card Survey. If your Project is not listed, you can exit the Survey Schedule Generator at this time.
The survey is optional for projects that received a total recreation budget of less than $50K last year. Selecting a project with a budget of less than $50K will bring up a pop up message indicating that the survey is optional. If you receive this message and elect to opt out of the survey, you can exit the Survey Schedule Generator at this time.
Step 2: From the menu of available dates, select the 3-month period you want to survey. This should ideally correspond to the 3 consecutive months during which you expect to receive the highest visitation.
Available sampling windows correspond to whole calendar months. Mid-month starting and ending dates are not available.
Projects that elect to survey the June-July-August sampling window can also elect to either include or exclude the Memorial Day holiday period from the survey. The default option is to include the Memorial Day holiday in the sampling window. If you do not want to survey during the Memorial Day holiday period, you can change the starting date to June 1 in Step 3 below.
Step 3: This step allows you to verify and/or modify the list of recreation areas that will be included in the comment card survey and the annual visitation amounts associated with day use and camping visitation at each recreation area.
You can affect several aspects of the final survey plan in ways that can greatly improve your ability to execute the survey by ensuring that the recreation areas you choose to include in the survey are appropriate and the associated visitation data are accurate. You can make the following changes in the work area in Step 3:
Step 4: This step allows you to specify how visitation is distributed across months and days of the week within the sampling window you selected. Separate values should be specified for day use and camping visitors. These values are used in the calculation of sampling probabilities associated with different dates in the sampling window you selected in Step 2. Taking the time to specify these values accurately will help to minimize the chances of selecting sampling dates on which little visitation is expected to occur. You can make the following changes in the work area in Step 4:
Step 5: This step allows you to select one of six survey options. Clicking on one of the available options will immediately initiate a pre-programmed evaluation of the data and survey options you have specified and will generate a corresponding sampling schedule(s) for your Project.
The survey plan options available to you in Step 4 depend primarily on the total annual day use and camping visitation that occurs on the Corps-managed recreation areas on your project. Two reduced-effort options and a No Survey option are available to projects with low project visitation and/or staffing or other limitations that make it administratively unfeasible to conduct the standard survey. Two of these options require written justification.
The survey plan options are described in the following table:
The options that are available on your Project are primarily a function of visitation levels on your Corps-managed recreation areas as follows:
Step 6. The Survey Schedule Generator will create one new worksheet labeled “Calendar” or two new worksheets labeled “Calendar-day” and “Calendar-camp,” depending on which survey option you elect in Step 5. Open one of the program-generated worksheet(s) to observe the survey schedule. Click on “Print the Calendar” to obtain a hard copy of the sampling schedule. If applicable, click the adjoining “Go to....” button to go to the second calendar. Print this calendar also.
Step 7. After printing the calendar, you should save the entire Microsoft Excel file under a different name from the file you opened to access the program. Saving the file will save for future reference the survey schedule(s) you produced during the survey scheduling session.