The San Mateo County Parks Department wants to learn more about its visitors. To do so, the Department is launching a visitor study that will occur during the next six weeks. The surveys will take place in 20 parks, spread throughout the County.
Park visitors can expect to see rangers and volunteers holding tablets or iPads and posing questions on a variety of topics, including the different activities visitors enjoy when in a park, how they get park information, and if they are satisfied with their park experience. On average the survey takes seven to eight minutes to complete.
Participants who are willing to complete a follow-up questionnaire will be entered into a drawing for a $100 REI gift card or a San Mateo County Parks pass that allows free entrance into all San Mateo County Parks for one year. The random sampling approach of the survey means that not every person leaving the park will be surveyed yet the data will be accurate enough to be used for evaluations and recommendations.
This is the first time San Mateo County Parks has done a study this extensive. The initial phase of the project began in late 2015 with community focus groups held in four locations in the County.
The Department is partnering with San Francisco State University’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism. Professor and Principal Investigator Nina Roberts, PhD, and Professor and Research Associate Patrick Tierney, lead a team of research associates and assistants working on the San Mateo County Parks project. The San Francisco State University team has conducted similar studies for Marin County Parks and other Bay Area park agencies.
Data collected from the focus groups and in-park surveys will provide insight into visitor motivation, satisfaction and future park interests and visitor demands. The data will be instrumental in helping the Department update its strategic plan, especially in the areas of park programs, facilities and communications.
In addition, the Department looks forward to applying study recommendations and developing innovative ways to connect with the communities it serves and improve outdoor access. Results of the survey will be available in September.