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Execute, Monitor, and Evaluate the Plan 61 JOINT AIRPORT/AIRLINE MONITORING APPROACH As noted, U.S. DOT data is historical; it is not forward looking. The only source of forward looking data pertain- ing to passenger volume is the airlines' advance booking activity. Most airlines have sophisticated revenue management systems. Tracking and evaluating advance booking trends is a critical part of the revenue man- agement function. If you are launching a marketing program designed to increase passenger volume at the airport, you might want to discuss the effort with your incumbent air carrier(s) to see if they would be willing to provide some insight as to the trends they are seeing in future bookings. This could prove to be very helpful to your efforts, for it would provide the most current input possible and give you a "real time" evaluation of your program. There are several cautionary notes concerning this approach. One is that most airlines consider this type of data proprietary and may not be willing to share it. Also, even if the airline provided you with the booking data, it is unlikely that you or anyone else outside of the airline would be able to correctly interpret the trends. Airlines have staffs of analysts trained to evaluate changes in future booking trends. Rather than the raw data, what you should seek is the airline's analysis of the change in future bookings at your airport. Make sure that the airline is aware that the program you are implementing is intended to benefit them and that feedback on future bookings is an important part of the process. It is unlikely that you will get definitive responses in this process. Most likely you will only be able to get some broad generalizations such as "bookings look stronger," or "we see no change in advance bookings." But even these broad statements can have value in monitoring your program. A positive response is encouraging and says you might be on the right track. A "no change" doesn't necessarily mean that the program is not working, but certainly indicates you should carefully review the program and what you hope to achieve. 8.3 MODIFY YOUR MARKETING PLAN All marketing programs are works in progress. Airports that have on-going programs can continue activities that are effective and introduce one or two new initiatives that might involve greater attention to launch. The goal of course is to accomplish one objective and move on to the next. For general aviation airports, business devel- opment is often a matter of personal contacts and maintaining relationships. Lead generation, development, and conversion into airport business are on-going activities. Keeping in touch with your existing tenants is also part of the equation. Review and revise your marketing plan each year and remember to keep the marketing team informed, engaged, and acknowledged. 8.4 FUNDING SOURCES For most small airports, funding for marketing comes from a variety of sources, including the airport operating budget, grants, and donations. Exhibit 8.1 lists alternative funding sources commonly used for small airport marketing.
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62 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Exhibit 8.1--Alternative Funding Sources to Help Market the Airport. Grants Cash Donations In-Kind Cost Sharing · FAA · Individuals · Experts in other local · Chamber of Commerce · SCASD · Businesses government departments · Economic development · State DOT · Airport FBO · Experts on Airport Board organizations · Economic development · Fundraising events · Ad agencies · State DOT organizations · Newspapers · FBO · Local government · Local Radio & TV · Airlines · University or college · Other airports · Marketing consultants Source: KRAMER aerotek, inc. FUNDING RESOURCES USED BY COMMERCIAL SERVICE AIRPORTS Many small commercial service airports have learned to be resourceful when funding marketing programs. The largest single source of marketing funds is the U.S. DOT's Small Community Air Service Development (SCASD) Pilot Program. Some states, such as Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming also provide grants for airport mar- keting programs. In the survey research, commercial service airports reported spending more than $10,000 in the previous year on marketing, with five of the airports reporting spending over $100,000. Keep in mind, however, that this selec- tion of airports may not be representative. The research team believes that the airports surveyed spend a greater than average amount on marketing. In particular, 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, probably more than small air- ports typically have available. All airports obtained some marketing funding from the airport operating budget (see Exhibit 8.2). In addi- tion, 9 of the 12 airports reported receiving grant funding--either from a SCASD 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. The State of Wyoming and its commercial service airports are a good example of a group application for a SCASD grant. In this case, a state contribution of $100,000 plus the SCASD grant of $800,000 meant that each airport needed only to contribute $10,000 to participate in the program. Several airports reported receiving special local government appropriations for marketing--individual donations, or matching funds from private businesses.
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Execute, Monitor, and Evaluate the Plan 63 Exhibit 8.2--Annual Spending for Marketing. Number of Commercial Service Airports Reporting >$100,000 $50,001 - $100,000 $10,001 - $20,000 $20,001 - $50,000 $5,001 - $10,000 $2,501 - $5,000 <$2,500 0 2 4 6 Responses Source: Airport Marketing Survey 2008 FUNDING RESOURCES USED BY GENERAL AVIATION AIRPORTS As with staffing resources, funding for marketing at general aviation airports is more limited than at commer- cial service airports. General aviation airports reported spending from $0 to more than $100,000. The smallest general aviation airports had little or no money to spend on marketing and only the largest general aviation air- ports had sizeable budgets and dedicated resources (internal or external) to carry out their marketing plans. The greatest amount of money was spent at those airports seeking to restore commercial service. Funds were used on more expensive forms of traditional marketing such as print advertising, radio and TV spots, and con- sulting services in support of securing commercial service. These funds most often came from airport operat- ing budgets, followed by various types of grants. However, for general aviation airports not seeking reinstatement of air service, most marketing funds came from the airport's operating budget, from special state grants or from joint marketing efforts with either the chamber of commerce or the FBO. Typical budgets for small general aviation did not exceed $5,000. Airports surveyed reported that funds went equally to either attracting new business to the airport or to promoting a positive view of the airport in the community. Exhibit 8.3 shows how marketing funds were used by general aviation airports.
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64 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Exhibit 8.3--Ways that General Aviation Airports Use Marketing Funds. Number of General Aviation Airports Reporting Promote positive view of airport in the community Attract new businesses to the airport Attract more general aviation or business activity Reinstate air service Address public safety, noise & land use issues Retain current airport tenants Attract developers to the airport Lobby congressional delegation Market hangars Promote airport to funding sources 0 2 4 6 8 Responses Source: Airport Marketing Survey 2008