Part 1: Why are Airports so far behind Airlines in Social and Digital Marketing? Key Statistics You Should Know

Why aren’t airports facing reality yet? [push h=”14″]

For the last few years, airports have got away with being tawdry in social strategy simply because they always had the valid reason that airlines had a head-start on them. But that reason is fast becoming an excuse. Even as the rate of change in marketing has intensified, and various industries — not just aviation — have discovered that social and digital marketing is potent and useful, airports have remained steadfast in their non-embrace of social media. What is the reason for their reluctance?

We regularly analyse over 600 Facebook pages (focused on the aviation industry) and have found that airports are lagging far behind airlines when it comes to social footprint. Let us investigate some statistics from the beginning of this year:

  • The Top 10 airports, in terms of fans on Facebook, have an average of about 175,000 likes.
  • In start contrast, the Top 10 airlines, in terms of fans on Facebook, have an average of 1,757,000 likes — over 10x of the average airport in the Top 10.
  • If we consider the Top 50, the situation becomes even more pitiable. The Top 50 airports on Facebook have an average fan-base of only 77,000 fans.
  • The Top 50 airlines in comparison have a whopping average fan-base of 1.2m fans — that’s over 15x of the average airport in the Top 50.
  • The difference between the averages of the Top 10 and Top 50 shows that airlines in general are taking social media seriously, whereas only a bunch of airports appear to have an active interest in developing their social media strategies.
  • Changi Airport, which has the highest number of fans for an airport on Facebook, has a respectable 370,000 fans.
  • KLM, which has the highest number of fans for an airline on Facebook, has an eye-popping 5.9m fans — in other words, the most popular airline page on Facebook is about 20x as popular as the most popular airport page.
  • To put this in context, KLM had about 4.5m fans at the beginning of 2014; Changi Airport had about 330,000 fans.

It really doesn’t take much more evidence to prove that airlines are soaring way ahead and are actively working on their social and digital strategies, whereas airport social media efforts are dismal. They must do better. Engaging today’s Connected Travellers has concrete benefits not just for airlines, but airports as well.

In our next part, we will discuss the best ways in which airports can drive results from a coherent digital and social strategy.

Meanwhile, we’d love to hear from you — tell us why you think airports are lagging behind? Do you wish airports were more active on social media? How can they benefit from it? Write to us below or tweet us @simpliflying.

Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Former VP, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal was leading SimpliFlying's Research, Product Development, Marketing and Business Development from December 2010 to December 2017 from the headquarters in Singapore. He has spoken at airline conferences and delivered training workshops for senior aviation executives. He has also appeared on television interviews and been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying and respected industry outlets such as Airlinetrends, Tnooz, Airport World, Low Cost and Regional Airline Business Magazine and Loyalty360. In a previous role, he also conducted a workshop on social media at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.
Shubhodeep Pal
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Showing 3 comments
  • malbarda
    Reply

    I think each brand needs some size in order to have at least the reach required to make social media efforts worth their while. But the actual size as well as how that compares to others in the industry is – for me – not the most crucial statistic. A far more relevant analysis is what utility is offered, and at what speed.

    I travel a whole lot every year globally as well as within the US, and I use airline apps and travel apps all the time. Not once can I remember feeling the need for a social media connection with airports. I do follow airports and airlines, but from these two, airlines offer traveler utility (I.e. updates on gates, delays, baggage claim, etc.).

    I think airports need to be “there” where ever consumers happen to look for them. So it is important for them to have a meaningful and uptodate presence across all touch points, social included. Size is then less important than being current, representative of their brand and offering some form of utility that helps their users (beyond the latest duty free offers).

    I like what Schiphol is doing in that respect.

  • airportcat
    Reply

    You should checkout http://airportcat.com. We are a new startup focusing on making the airport experience more social

  • Alejandro Pinzon
    Reply

    This is actually something that our company noticed a few years ago working for one of our current clients, and the impact that we’ve had on their brand has been huge! We started with a website, and now we’ve continued to develop an app, indoor mapping, ibeacon positioning, cloud flight information display systems, online tv channel, and social media displays! We’ve tweaked our products especially for the passenger audience and they love our product!

    Check out AirportDigital.com. We specialize in precisely this–creating cutting-edge digital marketing solutions that help airports connect with their passengers like never before.

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