Three ways airports can use social media for air service marketing and route development

 

 

Since recently returning from the American Association of Airport Executive’s (Great Lakes Region) National Air Service Conference, my mind is buzzing about innovative ways that social media can be used to enhance an airport’s air service development efforts.

At the conference I moderated a panel that was focused on the importance of communicating to the generations and how social media has infiltrated into the air service spectrum of the industry. It is now more important than ever for airports to understand that the ways in which our passengers are communicating and understand that that has evolved to include social media. It is no longer enough to simply market a new route through traditional mediums;  social media needs to be at the forefront of the minds of airports as they are working to enhance air service.

Social Promotions and Route Launches

During the conference session, Justin Meyer, Manager of Air Service Development for the Kansas City International Airport shared how social media is not only changing the way the airport is communicating to passengers of all generations, but also about their recent efforts to launch new service on Alaska Airlines from MCI to Seattle, WA.  The airport had a pre-existing relationship with the carrier, which led to a member of  the staff being invited to fly out on the inaugural flight and tweet about the new service and cool promotion they were running.

Partnering with your airlines to help market a new route is not a new concept for airports, but using social media to enhance the reach is an area on which airports are beginning to place more of a focus.

So what are a few simple ways that an airport can use social media to leverage new or existing routes and possible help to develop new air service for their local communities?

Three ways to revolutionize airport marketing

    1. Awareness through a Game – Leverage local community partners to spread the word of destinations through Facebook checki-ns.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztdl-AkXbb8&feature=player_embedded

Take a look at what Air China recently embarked on to increase awareness in the Sweden of all the cool Asian destinations they serve.

In order to increase awareness in the Sweeden of the airline’s multiple Asian destinations, they partnered with local Sweeden businesses. While scope and location are always a factor before jumping into a strategy, we feel that airports can learn from this example and could benefit from a similar program.

  1. The use of social media to push seat sales for both new and existing markets.
    Your airline partners are already doing it, so why not partner up with them to share the news with your local social followers and fans?  A quick email off to the marketing departments of each airline that serves your market, letting them know that you want to push specials, news, and deals through your social mediums can get an airport started on the right track to social success.The Melbourne Airport created a special Twitter handle just for pushing seat sales. While the account is not very “interactive” with its followers, @MelbFlightDeals has given the airport a channel to share relevant information and deals with followers who are looking for deal specific information.
  2. The use of social media to run social-based surveys aimed at route development.
    JetBlue recently showcased a fine example of communicating with travelers on how route decisions are made.  The social savvy team posted a simply survey, asking followers to vote of favorite destinations and paired it with an informative blog post about how the airline chooses cities.Air service surveys are tricky, as the airport can not be certain if the info will be taken to heart by the airline they are hoping to woo, however, community engagement and participation are not to be taken lightly. Airports are often found in the position where they must work to convince an airline of the viability of a certain new market and community engagement is key in air service development.  By engaging the community through the survey and using it as a channel to also inform them of the importance of their support, this just could be a winning way for an airport to use social media in a fun new way.

    Step 1: Create a simple survey aimed at gathering information from your local passengers on travel preferences and needs.
    Step 2: Write a post to the community sharing with them how the process works and the importance of supporting the airport.

    These are just a few ways that airports can begin to use social media as a route development tool. What do you think?

    For more ideas your airport can use social media to engage your passengers, be sure to revisit our 4 Fun Ways Airports Can Drive Engagement Though Foursquare and Top 10 airports on social media or drop us a line at airports@simpliflying.com to learn more about how your airport can use social media to drive engagement and revenue.

 

Elizabeth Flores

Elizabeth Flores

Elizabeth Cecconi headed the airports practice at SimplFlying as the company's Airport Engagement Executive from January to November 2012. She has worked in the Aviation industry for over 8 years, most recently heading all marketing and air service efforts at the South Bend Airport, in Indiana, USA and, prior to that, as a member of the Akron-Canton Airport (Ohio) marketing team. When she is not leading global business development (airports) for SimpliFlying, she can often be found boating on Lake Ontario at her home in Western NY State, or off traveling and skiing.You can find Elizabeth on LinkedIn.
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