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130 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES, AND FLIGHT SCHOOLS Educational institutions and airports are often important partners. Many airports already provide a great train- ing ground for business and aviation students, and universities and colleges can provide knowledge, expertise, and resources. Many airports have engaged the local university or college to conduct economic impact stud- ies, develop a business or marketing plan, help with a website, produce a video, or design/participate in a pub- lic relations campaign. Flight schools are also natural airport partners, whether the school is on the airport or housed within a local college or university. EXAMPLES OF GROUPS WORKING TOGETHER · Airport, chamber, and economic development organizations partner at a major convention, sharing a booth to market the airport and community. · The airport establishes a marketing internship program for students at the local university or college while increasing its own marketing staff to achieve its goals. · The airport works with travel agents and local resorts to develop an attractive vacation package to draw visitors to the area for recreational activities that use the airport, local businesses, restaurants, and hotels. · The airport and FBO develop a marketing campaign to increase transient pilot activity, possibly through fuel discounts or ad campaigns. 12.5 LOBBYING Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ ··· ··· Definition: Lobbying occurs at many levels of government. The rules and regulations applicable to lobbying are beyond the scope of this Guidebook. However, lobbying is another form of marketing and it needs to be viewed in that context. Many airports retain registered lobbyists to secure funding for specific airport projects or legislative initiatives. Some airports visit their congressional delegations either in their home state or in Washington, D.C., to advo- cate for certain projects. Various civic organizations such as the chamber of commerce organize annual trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators. Airports lobby at every level of government for FAA/Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding; state funding; local airport budget and funding; land use and zoning; and aviation taxes and fees. 12.6 CONTACT MANAGERS AND NETWORKING TOOLS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $ ··· ···
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Networking Opportunities 131 Definition: Contact managers are tools used to develop a contact list, record interactions, and keep in touch. They are indispensible if you are serious about networking. There are various contact manager solutions rang- ing from paper lists or Rolodexes to the latest contact manager software. Airport managers that are still using paper contact lists should explore the use of contact manager software. 12.6.1 TYPES OF CONTACT MANAGER AND NETWORKING TOOLS This chapter has identified a number of networking opportunities. To keep from losing vital contact information earned through your networking efforts, it is important to develop some kind of process to keep track of and manage those contacts. This section describes three alternative methods to keep track of contacts: 1. Manual systems 2. Electronic and computer database/customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and 3. Internet networking websites Which tools and method airport managers select to manage their contacts will depend on how contacts will be used for marketing activities. 12.6.2 CONTACT MANAGER TOOLS MANUAL CONTACT SYSTEMS Manual contact systems are used by most of us. We collect business cards and store them in a file or business card holder. We use a guest book for interested parties to sign and log their contact information. We distribute lists during meetings for attendees to record their contact information. These manual systems can be very effec- tive for gathering and grouping contacts. However, marketing and promotional efforts associated with those contacts often require repetitive manual steps, for example addressing envelopes to recipients each time the airport sends out a mailer. Thus, manual systems may be the least costly option but they are usually much more labor intensive. If an airport manager networks extensively, manual systems quickly become inadequate. Contact information is hard to keep current in manual form. Extensive networking yields many contacts so physical lists become hard to maintain. Most important, an electronic system will interface with email or word processing software and make it much easier to keep in touch with your contacts. Therefore, we suggest that manual systems, such as collecting business cards, should be combined with some type of electronic system to improve overall effectiveness of managing and effectively using contacts over time as part of the airport's overall marketing strategy. WORD PROCESSING, SPREADSHEET, AND EMAIL SOFTWARE With basic computer word processing and spreadsheet software you can enter, edit, and manage contacts. You can also produce mass mailings and labels. There are several software options.
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132 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Spreadsheet software can be set up for data entry of manual contact information and then it is easy to update or add to the list. Specific "flags" or codes can be assigned to contacts that identify attributes about a contact such as: airline, civic group, individual, tenant, and so on. Later, the contact file can be sorted to find all those contacts with specific codes to send a message, a newsletter, or an announcement. The cost to implement this type of system is minimal and the benefits in streamlining communication are obvious. Email software also has address books where email addresses and corresponding contact information reside. The information is entered once, and then updated as changes to contact information occur. Many advanced cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) will synchronize with email address books so that contact lists can be maintained and updated from multiple input sources. If you are using email as a marketing device, an email address book may be all that is required. Address books can also be shared among users. DATABASE TOOLS AND CONTACT MANAGER Larger sales and marketing groups employ robust databases to set up and maintain contact information, man- age relationships, and execute marketing campaigns. Some database tools reside on individual desktop com- puters while others reside on servers where multiple users have access to the information. Database tools are very flexible. They can be set up to hold a range of contact information that can be exported and used for a vari- ety of marketing activities. The most sophisticated contact manager tools are known as CRM tools. One CRM tool is sold as a stand-alone or group software package. Another is a service that maintains contact information on an offsite server. Use of this product involves monthly fees. These products require training to set up and use. There are also open source or free to the public contact manager tools that are available on the Internet. One of these allows mul- tiple users to access the contact database; however, it requires initial setup effort. There are also e-marketing tools that provide users with electronic marketing tools such as templates for e-newsletters or surveys for a fee. These packages include a way to link into your contact manager to retrieve lists of recipients of your marketing material. CONSIDERATIONS WHEN SELECTING A CONTACT MANAGER Airports should research their marketing requirements before selecting electronic tools for contact manage- ment. The following questions are useful to ask when considering how best to manage contacts: · How many individuals need access to the contact list? · What will be done with the contact list? (letters? e-newsletters? Press releases?) · Is there an IT person that supports the city or airport? What does he/she recommend? · Will existing email or contact manager tools adequately support networking and marketing activities? Exhibit 12.2 shows the relative cost and level of effort of implementing various contact manager systems.
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Networking Opportunities 133 Exhibit 12.2--Relative Cost of Contact Manager Systems. Costs of Contact Manager Tools (Time & Money) $ $$ $$$ Word Processor Mailing List Maintained Manual Systems CRM Software Email Address Books Customized Open Source CRM Online Services CRM Tools Source: KRAMER aerotek, inc. 12.6.3 INTERNET NETWORKING TOOLS The Internet has created a whole new meaning to the word networking and new communications technology and tools are evolving rapidly. Following is a brief description of some of the Internet networking tools that air- port managers might find useful. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but rather a sample of some of the main networking tools. PROFESSIONAL ONLINE NETWORKING There are a number of websites now on the Internet that provide professional or social online networking. The following description is limited to one example. However, readers can learn more about online networking options by visiting individual websites of interest. One online networking website describes itself as "an online network of more than 25 million experienced pro- fessionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. When you join, you create a profile that summa- rizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join . . . and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections' connections, and the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals." This service is free to join. However, it also offers paid accounts that pro- vide more tools for networking. WEB CONFERENCING Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings or presentations over the Internet. In a web conference, participants are connected to each other via the Internet using their personal computer as the communications device. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees' comput- ers or a web-based application where the attendees will connect to the conference by entering a common web- site address or URL. Web conferencing tools vary greatly in functionality and cost, and there are even some free web conferencing services available on the Internet. The tool enables participants to view material and conduct a conference call at the same time. Some web conferencing also allows participants to see each other.
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134 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports INSTANT MESSAGING Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet. The difference between IM and email is the perceived synchronicity of the communication by the user, meaning real-time (IM) versus "delayed response" (email). Instant messaging has been widely adopted as an informal business communications tool, and is included because of its wide use. BLOGS A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject, while others function as more personal journals or entries such as a travel log. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs or webpages related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual. A blog can be a very useful networking tool, bringing individuals together who share a common interest or concern and keeping them apprised of current events as they unfold.