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Public Relations Tools 83 for younger students. Airports also coordinate educational programs with high schools, community, and 4-year colleges to promote awareness of, and interest in, aviation-related careers. 10.4.4 RELATIVE COST OF EVENTS Exhibit 10.8--Cost of Events. Cost of Events (Time & Money) $ $$ $$$ Educational Programs Airport Full Scale for Students Open Houses Air Shows Source: Oliver Wyman Airport events can take on many shapes and sizes. Typically the cost, in both time and money invested by the airport will increase as the level of complexity, duration, and size of participation increase (see Exhibit 10.8). Events have a way of "getting away from us," meaning they start to expand beyond their original scope, and the time, energy, and funds invested in the event expand as well. When considering the scope of the event, try to make sure that it is structured in such a way as to achieve the public relations and marketing objectives of the airport. AOPA has published the following advice: "How much will it cost to hold an airport open house, and what are the income sources? The answers to these two basic budget questions are as varied as the events themselves. Harriet Alexander Field in Salida, Colorado, held a one-day airport open house on a budget of just $800. Admission was free, but the nonprofit organization that sponsored the open house earned income from dime-a-pound aircraft rides donated by local pilots. That contrasts with the million dollars-plus budget required to conduct a major two-day open house and air show at a large metropolitan airport. In-between is an event the size of the Scottsdale Air Fair. The two-day open house features a range of civil, military, and war bird static displays and fly-bys, attracts about 25,000 people, and operates on a budget of about $300,000." (From the AOPA "Complete Guide to Holding an Airport Open House") Tip: Try to find a corporate sponsor for the event who may be able to donate cash and/or in-kind contributions. This is a means for the sponsor, through publicity, to generate good will in the community while benefiting the airport. 10.5 PROMOTIONS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · ·
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84 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Definition: Promotions include tools such as contests and drawings, giveaway items, and free services and amenities. Both general aviation and commercial service airports use promotions to promote the airport and improve its public image (see Exhibit 10.9). Rates and charges reductions are also frequently offered. These are described in Section 10.5.4 for general aviation. For a full discussion of rates and charges reductions directed to commercial service air carriers, see ACRP Report 18: Passenger Air Service Development Techniques. Exhibit 10.9--Types of Airport Promotions. Promotions Contests Giveaway Items & Drawings Free Services Reduction of Rates & Amenities & Charges Source: KRAMER aerotek, inc. 10.5.1 CONTESTS AND DRAWINGS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · · Definition: Airports have used a nearly endless array of contests to market themselves. Ideally, these contests rely on prizes donated by airlines, travel agencies, and local businesses. The contests may be held in conjunc- tion with open houses or as independent events. They work best when they are widely publicized and not simply promoted at the airport. Contests and drawings are used to achieve various public relations goals: to expose the airport's brand, to attract new users to the airport, to promote a positive image of the airport, and so forth. How contests and drawings are structured will depend on which of these goals the airport hopes to achieve, as well as the funds available. One example of a successful promotion in conjunction with the launch of new service occurred at Tri-State Airport (Huntington, West Virginia) when Allegiant inaugurated nonstop service to Orlando, Florida. The airline donated a number of complimentary tickets to be used by the airport to promote the new service. Rather than devote all the tickets to a contest, the airport also donated some to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation. The event received a great deal of media coverage--good publicity for the airport, the airline, and the foundation. KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR CONTESTS · Make sure that the contest or drawing is "targeted," reaching its intended audience. · Adequately promote the contest or drawing to increase participation by the targeted group.
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Public Relations Tools 85 · Structure the contest or drawing to encourage specific action to be taken by the targeted group. · Define the budget for the contest/drawing and stay within it. · Reduce the cost by finding sponsors to donate items for the contest or drawing. · Incorporate the airport's brand in the contest or drawing to increase awareness. · Use earned media opportunities to announce the contest, the winners, and so forth. · Repeat the contest or drawing over time (e.g., run a monthly drawing) to build momentum. IDEAS TO STRUCTURE A CONTEST OR DRAWING · Set up a contest box or bowl in the terminal, at a tradeshow booth, or at the FBO where participants can either drop in their business card or fill out a simple postcard with some basic information (name, contact information). Names drawn win a prize. Additionally, entrants' information can be added into the airport's contact database for future marketing efforts. · Run a contest on the airport's website, asking participants to complete an online registration form to enter the contest. Randomly select a winner from the registrant list and add entrant names into the air- port's contact database. · Jointly run a contest or drawing with another community group, such as the chamber of commerce. Have first, second, and third place winners with three different prizes of increasing value. Ask cham- ber members (businesses) to help sponsor the contest. · Structure a contest in such a way that requires the participants to use airport facilities to enter. Then select the winner from that pool of the contestants. Incorporate the airport's brand in the prize. 10.5.2 GIVEAWAYS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · · Definition: Giveaway items are used to promote or advertise the airport, creating a top of mind awareness by incorporating the airport's brand (name, logo, and tag line) into the specific items. To improve their effectiveness, giveaways should include items that people want to keep and use. These items can range from inexpensive ones such as luggage tags, pens, magnets, coffee mugs, water bottles, key chains, and calendars to more expensive one-of-a-kind items with an aviation theme. Typically, giveaways are handed out at tradeshows, conferences, public speeches, open houses, educational programs, and pretty much at any event that involves the airport. They can also be used as conversation ice breakers. There are a number of pro- motional item suppliers listed on the Internet, so do some comparative shopping for items, prices, and quality. 10.5.3 FREE SERVICES AND AMENITIES Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · ·
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86 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Definition: Some common free services include free parking, free wireless Internet, complementary coffee, business centers, and so forth. At some airports, volunteer ambassadors meet and greet passengers entering the facility to answer questions and offer assistance. Airports often use free services and amenities to promote the airport. They use customer service and conven- ience as a means to stand out from the competition. Giveaways can also be used as incentives. For example, give away an item to each person who completes an airport customer satisfaction survey to increase the over- all response rate of the survey and to add this person to the airport's contact list. Giveaway Item + Specific Call to Action = Desired Outcome At general aviation airports, the FBOs frequently set the level of services offered. Some of the larger FBOs offer such amenities as conference rooms, sleeping and bathing facilities, gourmet catering, audio and video enter- tainment, crew lounge, exercise room, rental cars, and shuttle services to and from the airport. Sometimes the airport will co-sponsor services and facilities for general aviation passengers and pilots with the FBO. 10.5.4 RATES AND CHARGES REDUCTIONS Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $-$$$ · · Definition: Rates and charges discounts are another way to promote the airport. In some cases, these dis- counts are tied directly to utilization by the passenger or general aviation user. At a certain level of utilization, these discounts "kick in" and accelerate to the point where certain fees are waived altogether. One example is Sugar Land Regional Airport, the fourth largest airport in the greater Houston area and a sig- nificant general reliever airport. Touted as "the destination of choice for the business traveler in the Houston area," the airport waives ramp fees with a minimum fuel purchase of 100LL or 50 gallons of Jet-A fuel. Commercial service airports can also waive rates and charges for passenger airlines, provided that reductions in rates or charges are for a promotional period or available to all carriers serving the particular airport. To effectively use discounts on rates and charges, consider the following suggestions: · Periodically, compare your airport's rates and charges to the competition; see what they are charging and whether they offer discounts, and if so, what types. · Structure your airports rates and charges to be competitive and attractive. · Then, promote them to your target audience using advertising and public relations tools. 10.5.5 OTHER PROMOTIONS USED TO INCREASE COMMERCIAL SERVICE A variety of other promotional techniques have been applied to persuade passenger air carriers to initiate or continue air service. These include financial contributions from local businesses to market the airport, special local taxation earmarked for air service programs, frequent flyer incentives purchased by the local community, business fare reductions in exchange for community support, advance ticket purchase programs, and direct