With more than 200,000 passengers arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport every day, it’s one of the busiest airports in the world, according to the Airports Council International. While location is a primary contributor to the passenger volume of Heathrow, Atlanta, Beijing, Dubai, and others on the list, marketing is another important factor.
Marketing is becoming increasingly essential in the digital age as customers become more informed and demanding when it comes to the overall travel experience. Successful marketing campaigns can improve brand awareness, offer value-add promotions and enhance airport customer experience. Combined, those could be the deciding factors between what airline to book and what airports to fly to.
For example, a month-long annual event called The Whisky Experience earned Heathrow a second Frontier award in 2017 for best marketing campaign.
The Whisky Experience, which took place in spring 2016, featured more than 300 whiskeys for passengers to try, including airport-exclusive varieties. In addition, the campaign featured a collaboration with British fashion designer Giles Deacon, to create special edition whisky stones for a gift with purchase promotion.
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) May 14, 2016
Collaboration campaigns such as this award-winning experience are just one growing trend among domestic and international airports. Here are six more marketing strategies airports are using.
Overall, marketing partnerships have several benefits, including the ability to collaborate, be more cost-effective and attract a new audience. In the aviation industry, airports can partner with retailers, food and beverage companies, and airlines to offer unique opportunities including airplane-to-gate sales that allow passengers to online shop in-flight and pick up products when they land. According to a 2017 report from PwC, joint sales channels between airlines and airports could boost airport sales by 10-20%.
Travelers can help promote your organization by sharing photos and videos that can be curated to showcase positive customer experiences. Images and clips can be pulled from social media channels or filtered through emailed submissions. In 2017, Tampa International Airport (TPA) launched a weekly Facebook photo contest with new themes each week. The contest was open to anyone, including employees. Winning photos were featured on TPA’s website and social media pages. Implementing a user-generated strategy can provide new content, at no cost, from actual customers.
Employees as Brand Advocates
Your employees can be your cheerleaders. Featuring employee spotlights, like those featured on TPA’s website, highlight how you treat your employees and can say a lot about your company and increase brand awareness. Customers support organizations that take care of their employees.
Increase Customer Interaction
People are constantly snapping photos and videos of travel adventures. Asking passengers to share their stories on social media, hosting photo or video contests and even soliciting comments encourages people to participate. In 2015, the Bob Hope Airport invited social media followers to comment on their daily social media posts celebrating the terminal’s 85th birthday, reported the Los Angeles Times. Prizes varied from movie tickets to a VIP tour at Warner Bros Studios.
Airport professionals are experts in the field of travel and aviation. Content marketing provides a way to share useful information with potential and current travelers while also promoting the airport. Changi Airport exemplifies this in their blog, Now Boarding, with articles on travel advice, events at Changi, cultural things to know about Singapore and more. It’s no coincidence that Changi was named the World’s Best Airport in 2017 by Skytrax, its fifth consecutive time winning the award.
Develop Reward Programs
Hotel rewards, car rental discounts and frequent flyers miles are successful incentives for travelers. Airports can also cash in on this growing trend by “thinking outside of the box.” The Copenhagen Airport launched the CPH Advantage club, which allows customers to earn points for shopping and dining at the airport. Those points can then be redeemed in person or online.
Marketing professionals within the aviation industry face new challenges that didn’t exist in the past. As social media usage increases and customers continue voicing their concerns, opinions and thoughts online, figuring out how to best utilize technology to promote positive experiences will be invaluable to an organization’s overall marketing strategy. While marketing trends continue to change, trying different approaches and techniques will allow marketing professionals to experiment and ultimately find what works best for their organization.