Promo Programs

AIRPORT BUSINESS recently spoke with several airports about some of their most creative and unique programs.

To make an impression; to attract customers; to celebrate aviation and the airport. These are just a few of the reasons airports invest dollars in marketing campaigns. AIRPORT BUSINESS recently spoke with several airports about some of their most creative and unique programs. One trend that comes through is that the use of the Internet as an advertising and measurement tool is influencing airport marketing teams and the
audiences they are looking to reach.

The San Diego International Airport marketing staff had several goals in mind when it established its 2003 marketing campaign, according to VP of marketing and communications Therese Corso. "Our goals were to inform the public and provide opportunities for the community to celebrate aviation, as well as to position the authority as a new public enterprise -- a modern airport to a thriving region." Not only was 2003 the 100th anniversary of aviation, but also the 75th anniversary of Lindbergh Field and the first year of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority's existence. "It was our coming out party, so to speak," says Steven Schultz, press officer.

To commemorate the event, a 100-page book was published, along with a film entitled The Future Takes Wing: San Diego International Airport, 75 Years of Flight. According to Corso, the book won a number of awards and the film even won an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the historical/biographical program category. Corso says that not only is it unheard of for an airport to win an Emmy, it's also rare that a public sector agency would win the award.

Besides the marketing pieces, SAN also held events to celebrate and promote aviation and the airport. A family day was held at the airport in August 2003, complete with a flyover of a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis.

Another public event was a concert held at Balboa Park featuring the San Diego Symphony playing all aviation-themed music, including Flight of the Bumble Bee and other songs from aviation films. This was free and open to the public.
These events along with banners hanging in the airport and a specially designed logo for the occasion helped to create a "unique brand identity," says Corso. The airport also ran two TV spots on a local public broadcasting network, which also won awards.

The airports' 2003 budget for the campaign was some $300,000, says Corso. However, many of the events were co-sponsored by community partners, such as the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Quantifying Success
Corso explains that a number of elements are analyzed to measure the success of the airport's marketing campaign. One is what she calls the publicity value: "How much media coverage we received. In 2003 where the focus was on the anniversary, we had something like over 250 stories either on television or in print done on the airport."

From that exposure, Corso estimates the value to the airport was $850,000 in publicity. Other ways to measure include attendance at the events and activity on the website. "We notice that when we have a major exposure in the press we have a sharp increase in web hits," she says.

New air service is a direct result of the marketing effort and another way Corso measures results. "We saw a net gain of 90 additional weekly flights, and that's pretty significant," she says.

Along with the aforementioned awards, SAN was also the recipient of Airports Council International-North America's highest marketing honor, the Peggy G. Hereford Overall Award for Excellence.

While there is nothing that SAN has done in terms of marketing that it would not implement again, Corso says the airport will definitely increase the use of its website ( in its campaigns, particularly with what she calls the airport's biggest issue: selecting a site for a possible new airport.

"We're planning some big public events around that," says Corso. "We have a series of aviation education forums where we bring in experts to talk to the community leaders and educate them about air transportation issues." A referendum to decide whether a new airport will be built and where goes before the voters in 2006. "We want to get as much education out there to the public so they can make an informed decision."

Corso says the marketing budget has increased as the overall airport budget has increased. And, because of the financial pressures airlines have been feeling in recent years, SAN has increased its marketing efforts. "Because the airlines cut back, we decided that we would provide that service for them," says Corso.

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