Cover Image

Not for Sale

View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 171

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 170
170 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Marketing Efforts and Supporting Tools That Have Worked At Your Airport--Those airport managers that responded to this question found their airport website to be an effective way to keep tenants, business prospects, and other users of the airport informed and aware of current services and activities. They stressed that it is impor- tant to keep the website up to date, and to have a dedicated resource for this function. Several airports direct all their advertising back to their webpage. This saves time on the telephone with reporters and users who want general airport information. They also found different forms of networking to be effective. They ranked press releases and newspaper articles to be the most effective marketing tool, followed by either an economic impact brochure or airport specific marketing brochure. It is important to note that many of the respondents have used resources at the local college or university to complete an economic impact study on behalf of the airport. Least Effective Marketing Activities Done By Your Airport--Airport managers surveyed felt very strongly, either pro or con, about the effectiveness of airport open houses or air shows. Some felt they were not effective at all and were very time consuming for a limited staff to manage, while others felt they were very effective and a great way to showcase the airport. The ability to muster volunteers to help manage the event was a key ingre- dient of a successful outcome. There were a range of other responses to this question, but little consensus. Promotional Events Your Airport Sponsors--10 of the 16 airport managers sponsor some form of educa- tional event or events at the airport to raise public awareness and improve the airport's image in the community. The specific type of event varied amongst those surveyed, but included such activities as Young Eagles, student tours of the airport, and safety seminars. Some of the less common but creative promotional events included partnering for charity events, chamber of commerce After Hours events, and the local symphony. Market Research Your Airport Has Conducted in the Past 5 Years--A customer satisfaction survey is the most common form of market research conducted by those surveyed, but only 6 of the 16 respondents reported conducting such a survey. Also, those airports seeking commercial service have typically used outside consult- ants to complete market research for the airport. What Advice Would You Give Other Airports About Marketing--6 of the 16 airport managers believe that you have to put time and resources into marketing your airport, and 5 of the 16 believe that some form of plan (formal or informal) and execution of that plan is important for success. Lastly, building relationships in the com- munity is also an important ingredient for success. How Much Did You Spend On Marketing Last Year and What Was the Source of Funds--The responses ranged from zero dollars to more than $100,000 with small general aviation airports having little or no money to spend on marketing and the largest general aviation airports having sizeable budgets and dedicated resources (internal or external) to execute their marketing plans. Typically, the greatest amount of money was spent at those airports seeking to restore commercial service. Funds were used on more expensive forms of marketing such as print advertising, radio and television spots, and consulting services in support of securing commercial service. These funds typically came from airport operating budgets, followed by various types of grants. 18.3 COMMERCIAL SERVICE AIRPORTS 18.3.1 DESCRIPTION OF PROCESS The research team identified 15 commercial service airports for possible interviews based on the following factors: Geographic diversity within the lower 48 states Enplanements--small airports were selected

OCR for page 170
Airport Survey Methodology and Findings 171 Enplanement trends Small airports that experienced passenger growth during the 20002007 period were selected For the smallest airports, those that maintained passenger levels were selected because the aver- age airport experienced a significant decline in passengers from 20002007, Airports known to have conducted innovative marketing programs Of the 15 airports originally identified, 2 had lost commercial service since the end of 2006, and therefore these airports were not interviewed. Of the remaining 13 airports with commercial service, 11 participated in the inter- view process. In addition, Ft. Wayne was added as a result of favorable mention during the interviews. The 12 airports interviewed ranged in size from approximately 3,000 annual enplanements to 600,000 enplane- ments. Nine of the airports had fewer than 100,000 enplanements. The larger airports were included primarily to help assess whether the techniques used there might also be applicable to the smaller airports that are the focus of this study (see Exhibit 18.8). Exhibit 18.8--Commercial Service Airports Surveyed. 2007 Airport State Code Enplanements Bradford Pennsylvania BFD 3,037 Casper Wyoming CPR 75,191 DuBois Pennsylvania DUJ 7,168 Ft. Wayne Indiana FWA 286,259 Huntington West Virginia HTS 60,566 Huntsville Alabama HSV 605,855 Latrobe Pennsylvania LBE 13,406 Newport News Virginia PHF 512,536 North Platte Nebraska LBF 10,201 Rhinelander Wisconsin RHI 37,381 Shendoah Valley Virginia SHD 4,645 Tupelo Mississippi TUP 27,677 Source: Airport Manager Survey, 2008 18.3.2 FINDINGS Although the number of airports interviewed was too small a sample to be statistically representative of small commercial service airports in the United States, the process yielded a number of useful findings. MARKETING GOALS Nearly all airports reported that their primary marketing goals related to air service development. Improving air service, attracting passengers, and retaining existing carriers are the three primary mar- keting goals of small commercial service airports. In connection with air service, a number of airports said specifically that raising "awareness" in the region was their primary focus. In other words, many area residents did not know that their local air- port offered commercial air service, or assumed that the local service was not competitive with that offered at larger airports.

OCR for page 170
172 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports The more general goal of promoting a positive view of the airport in the community is considered of equal importance to air service development, but is not ranked as high in terms of time devoted or money spent. The marketing goals ranking next in importance are attracting new businesses to the airport and attract- ing more general aviation. Slightly more airports placed greater importance on lobbying their congressional delegations than on attracting developers to the airport. This is likely to be a function of airports seeking help with Essential Air Service issues or federal grant funding. MARKETING TOOLS The airports used a wide range of marketing tools and had different opinions on which were most successful. As shown in Exhibit 18.9, most airports reported using a number of different tools. Exhibit 18.9--Marketing Tools Used by Airports Interviewed. Airport website Press releases Articles in newspapers or magazines Newspaper ads Airport open houses Chamber lunch TV ads Radio ads Billboards Printed marketing brochure Student education events Some Advertising on other websites A Lot Electronic newsletter Magazine ads Air shows Airport economic impact brochure Printed newsletter 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 (Number of Airports Using Some" or "A Lot " ) Source: Airport Manager Survey, 2008 Nearly all airports reported using their website, press releases, and articles in newspapers and maga- zines to help market the airport.

OCR for page 170
Airport Survey Methodology and Findings 173 Most also reported having open houses and chamber events to promote the airport. The chamber events were typically lunch or dinner meetings or cocktail parties. A majority made some use of newspaper ads, airport open houses, chamber lunches, television and radio ads, billboards, and student education events. Very few reported using magazine ads, air shows, or airport economic impact brochures, and none reported using a printed newsletter. EFFECTIVENESS OF DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES Most airports reported that local press coverage was an effective marketing tool, as were meetings with local business and civic groups. One airport emphasized that issuing press releases leads to good radio and television coverage, and that the airport helped build good media relations by always having a story ready when the local media needed one. Several airports reported that they had conducted contests that were effective. These made use of radio, email, and Internet. One airport used a contest involving local travel agencies to encourage them to book travel at the local airport. Several airports were strong proponents of using billboards to increase awareness of the local airport. "You could be there now" was the theme of one campaign. Four respondents mentioned that they found newspaper advertising to be the least effective market- ing medium. Two airports said that it was difficult to know which media were effective. One said that the airlines had the direct relationship with the customer and that the airport was only an intermediary with much less information. Radio elicited differing reactions. Some airports rated it among the least effective marketing vehicles. Others thought it useful for short-term impacts. Air shows drew mixed reactions. Many airports had sponsored air shows in the past but, in some cases, found them disruptive of operations. Many airports also conducted programs for students, the 4-H, Girl Scouts, or Boy Scouts. Overall, every airport contacted used a variety of marketing techniques to raise awareness of the air- port in the community and to encourage good community-airport relations. In terms of raising local awareness of the airport, the three most effective tools listed were local adver- tising (listed by 10 airports), meetings with local business groups (mentioned by 7 airports), and local press coverage (mentioned by 6 airports). MARKET RESEARCH Airports had different views regarding market research. Both large and small airports conducted cus- tomer satisfaction and travel destination surveys. Some airports said they regarded market research as useful, but did not have the budget for it. Still others said that they did not need to conduct market research because they knew the issues. Six airports reported conducting customer satisfaction surveys, five reported conducting informal opin- ion polls, and two reported conducting telephone surveys. FUNDING Each of the airports interviewed reported spending more than $10,000 in the previous year on mar- keting, with five of the airports reporting spending over $100,000. The three largest airports fell within the top spending category along with one very small airport and one medium sized airport (see Exhibit 18.10).

OCR for page 170
174 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Exhibit 18.10--Annual Spending on Marketing. 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 $100,000 $5,000 $10,000 $20,000 $50,000 $100,000 Source: Airport Manager Survey, 2008 All airports obtained some marketing funding from the airport operating budget. In addition, nine air- ports reported receiving grant funding--either from a Small Community Air Service Development Grant, a State grant, or other grant. Seven airports reported receiving in-kind contributions--perhaps the most unusual being the donation of locally made Vera Bradley handbags to be used in promotions. Several airports reported receiving special local government appropriations for marketing, individual donations, or matching funds from private businesses. As noted, this selection of airports may not be representative. The team suspects that the airports selected spend a greater than average amount on marketing. Three of the larger airports--Ft. Wayne, Huntsville, and Newport News--were included specifically because their marketing programs are known in the industry and, therefore, it is logical to assume that they have significant marketing budgets.

OCR for page 170
Airport Survey Methodology and Findings 175 STAFFING For most of the small airports interviewed, marketing is a function handled by the airport manager along with other responsibilities. Four airports had a dedicated full-time marketing person--the three largest airports, plus Huntington (which had over 60,000 enplanements in 2007). At Ft. Wayne, the primary air service marketing person is employed by the chamber of commerce, while the airport also employs a public relations person on staff. Among the smaller airports, only one reported having any marketing staff beyond the airport director. At Dubois, the airport employs a part-time marketing person. As shown in Exhibit 18.11, a majority of airports interviewed work closely with local chambers or eco- nomic development groups and made use of advertising agencies. Five airports reported using out- side consultants to assist in their marketing activities. Exhibit 18.11--Other Entities That Assist with Airport Marketing. (Number of Airports Using Each Type of Entity) Local chamber of commerce Economic development group Advertising agency Other airport staff Joint partnership with private enterprise Outside consultant Airport marketing director Others Volunteers Lobbyist 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Source: Airport Manager Survey, 2008