LAST CALL: Elvis event helps put DFW parking business in the pink

Parking. Elvis. Pink cars. Putting these words together makes perfect sense to teens of the 1950s. So is the PR staff at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) showing its age?

Parking. Elvis. Pink cars. Putting these words together makes perfect sense to teens of the 1950s. So is the PR staff at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) showing its age?

Facing competition from off-site parking services, DFW conducted a year-long customer satisfaction survey to eliminate hassles for motorists at the sprawling, four-terminal facility. Staff simplified parking-lot names, fired up 40 new shuttles, and offered parkers free water, newspapers, and windshield cleaning - all without a price increase. Spotters now direct shuttles to individual automobiles so flyers don't have to lug their luggage so far.

The PR department then created a TV-enticing spectacle by hiring a dozen Elvis impersonators to rock and roll around the parking lots on launch day. Two could even sing.

DFW also let pink cars park free all week, and the annual Mary Kay convention wasn't even in town. Bruce Springsteen did play in Dallas the night before the media event, but no count was available at press time on how many pink Cadillacs landed on free parking.

The media relations push mainly targeted the local press, said public affairs VP Ken Capps, but national outlets such as CNN and USA Today could not resist the chance to write "Elvis has left the parking lot" jokes.

Express parking increased more than 70% for the week, Capps added.

"There are going to be a number of other promotions that my department is working on for the holidays and 2003 to give the parking some personality," Capps said. How about girls in short skirts and roller skates delivering wine and Can't Help Falling in Love CDs on moon-lit nights?

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