Island ferry survey – Peter Brett (papi)
Sea ferries provide lifeline connections to the communities of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland with the Scottish mainland, underpinning their local economies and boosting tourism.
The routes to, from and within the islands are subject to periodic studies assessing options for developing services. Market research is a key element of such research – development and infrastructure consultants, Peter Brett Associates, commissioned Protel Fieldwork to conduct a series of large on-board ferry surveys across successive studies.
The task, across numerous studies, was to interview passengers on several ferry crossings from the Scottish mainland to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland, on both outward and return journeys. Logistics was the largest challenge: the journeys varied from a five-minute crossing, from Colintraive to Rhubodach, to overnight sea crossings, where passengers frequently retired to their cabins immediately upon boarding. Some ferries only sailed on certain days and others followed circular routes around several islands. The territory is remote and inclement weather does disrupt schedules.
Protel Fieldwork assembled a team of skilled interviewers with ‘sea legs’ who travelled on set ferry routes, approaching passengers to invite them to complete a questionnaire, this could be completed immediately or returned at a later point once they had disembarked. Protel Fieldwork arranged all of the logistics – including on one occasion, emergency overnight accommodation for an interviewer. As a standard procedure, rigorous quality checks were conducted on the data samples.
Protel’s interviewers hit the right note with ferry passengers, surpassing the expected response rates, despite the somewhat difficult interviewing conditions. The result was a high quality set of data from which valuable insights could be drawn.
“Protel Fieldwork always delivers a professional service to a high quality, meeting deadlines, some of which are demanding. I have no hesitation in recommending the services of Protel Fieldwork.”
– Chris Paterson, Associate Transport Planner, Peter Brett Associates LLP