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80 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports · Choose colors that make the text easier to read. · Use bullet points instead of full sentences. · Incorporate images that your audience can relate to and enjoy. · PowerPoint should be a "visual aid"--not the entire show. 10.4 EVENTS Events are a common form of public relations and have been embraced by airports over the years. They are usually structured as open houses, air shows, or educational programs such as Young Eagles. These events provide an opportunity for the airport to showcase its facilities and services and to create a memorable, posi- tive experience for the general public. Exhibit 10.7 contains events commonly used for public relations. Exhibit 10.7--Types of Airport Events. Events Educational Air Shows Open Houses Programs Source: KRAMER aerotek, inc. Many airport managers believe events such as open houses, air shows, and educational programs help build community awareness about the airport, its facilities, and its services. Programs such as Young Eagles are used to help pull in the next generation of pilots. Air shows showcase outstanding talent and can draw large crowds to the airport during the event. These events also provide great earned media opportunities, a definite plus for airports working to raise public awareness about their presence in the community. Other airport managers question the value of air shows and open houses because of the amount of work involved and the disruption to airport operations. There is also some question among airport managers as to whether these events result in new or increased business for the airport during the rest of the year. These events can be very labor intensive. The pros and cons of "putting on an event" should be weighed carefully before embarking on such an endeavor. Regardless of which type of airport event is being considered, here are important questions to answer: 1. What are the specific marketing objectives of the event? 2. Is the event likely to be successful in terms of achieving the marketing objectives of the airport? 3. What activities will take place at the event, and does the airport have the resources, such as parking, safety, and security to adequately support them? 4. Can the airport staff put on the event while conducting regular airport business, or does the airport need to recruit volunteers from the community to help with the event? 5. Will the event interfere with any critical airport activities? 6. Do the airport's current tenants, immediate neighbors, and other key stakeholders support the idea of the event?
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Public Relations Tools 81 7. Does this event have a historical foundation or tradition, and if so, what will be the impact of cancel- ing or changing the concept of the event on the airport's relationship with the community? 8. How much will it cost to put on the event, and does the airport have the funds? 9. Is this event the best use of the airport's available marketing budget? 10. What are other sources of volunteers, funding, or sponsorship for the event? 10.4.1 AIR SHOWS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $$$ Definition: Air shows are events in which the public gets to see aircraft perform, as well to view the aircraft on the ground. They are the most elaborate type of event that an airport can undertake. An article published in The Journal Record (Oklahoma City) titled "Air Show Planning Not So Simple" by Bill May, The Journal Record staff reporter (September 26, 1997) describes the transformation of air shows, historically, from simple affairs to complex and competitive events today. "Back in olden times, putting on an air show was a relatively simple thing. All you had to do was find a few people who owned airplanes and would agree to fly, bring a couple of jets and the crowd was thrilled. Nowadays, things are not so simple. Wing walkers, parachute jumps and "loop-de-loops" are not enough. Audiences are much more sophisticated and they demand more--and not just in num- bers, but in variety. The problem is there is more and more competition for the truly good air show acts and for the available airplanes." For airports that decide to pursue an air show, check out "The Complete Guide to Holding an Airport Open House," a publication of the AOPA Airport Support Network at www.aopa.org/asn (AOPA, Frederick, Maryland). Included in this comprehensive publication are planning and scheduling tools, checklists, promotion, market- ing and sponsorship ideas, and so forth. One of the main public relations benefits of air shows is the volume and variety of earned media that accom- panies such an event. 10.4.2 OPEN HOUSES Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ ·-·· Definition: Airport open houses are events where the public is invited to see and learn more about the airport. Open houses take on many different forms depending on the resources and time available to plan and man- age them. Often, airport open houses are held annually and sometimes correspond with another annual com- munity event or national holiday such as Memorial Day or the 4th of July.
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82 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Programs at an airport open house include the following: · Static displays of airplanes (sometimes historical in nature) · Aerial demonstrations · High speed "fly-bys" · Activities for children · Free airplane rides · Exhibitors and booths · Food and beverages Open houses are a common type of promotional event used to increase public awareness and build commu- nity support. They are most effective when conducted with other community stakeholders, which enables air- ports to benefit from joint advertising, increased earned media coverage, and shared resources and costs. The following are suggestions for an airport open house: · Pick an annual date for the open house and stick to it; this is a good way to develop community aware- ness and increase attendance over time. · Couple the airport open house with an annual holiday such as Memorial Day or the 4th of July to give it a holiday theme. · Consider putting on a joint airport/community event and share in the work and the recognition. · Debrief with airport staff and volunteers after the event to better understand what worked and what did not work for next time. · Offer amenities such as free entry, free rides, and free parking. · Run a contest or drawing. · Provide activities for kids so they will want to come back to the open house again next year. · Ask for help from community sponsors such as local businesses to garner corporate or in-kind con- tributions. · Take advantage of earned media to promote the event and then report on the event's success afterwards. 10.4.3 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · ·· Definition: Educational programs include a variety of programs such as the Young Eagles designed to edu- cate young people (primarily) about aviation and to promote an interest in aviation. "The EAA Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people, ages 817, the opportunity to go flying in an airplane. These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers" (from the EAA website, www.young eagles.org). In addition to programs such as the Young Eagles, airports often offer educational programs for primary and secondary students through their local school district including tours of the airport and aviation activities geared