Surviving The Bowl
For fixed base operators, handling traffic drawn by events like the Super Bowl can be a major fete in itself
BY Monica L. Rausch, Associate Editor
MIAMI — While the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons battled it out at Pro Player Stadium, the sky overhead bustled with planes, blimps, and helicopters. The Federal Aviation Administration even constructed a temporary control tower on site to handle the traffic.
And that was just during the game. Starting the previous Friday, fixed base operators in the area had their hands full with an influx of traffic for the event. But these FBOs, located at Opa Locka, Ft. Lauderdale International (FLL), and Ft. Lauderdale Executive (FXE) Airports, were well-prepared with extra ramp space, Super Bowl parties for the pilots, catering, giveaways, and jet fuel discounts.
Several operators shared with us both before and after the event insights on what they did to market and handle the event.
Parties for the customers
To attract customers to their operations, most of the FBOs planned Super Bowl parties for pilots and customers, some bringing in sponsors to help with the event.
Bombardier Aerospace had success with a party at last year's Super Bowl in San Diego; so, last August, the company scoped out an area to hold another this year. "We did the rounds to see which one we thought would be the busiest, specifically for larger jets flying in," says Kerry Lamont, promotions coordinator for business aircraft at Bombardier.
The company chose the Ft. Lauderdale Jet Center at FLL and leased a hangar, where it housed a projection TV, several large-screen TVs, chairs, and tables. Food for the event was cooked in an adjacent 20-by-20-ft. tent. Since food for the party would be cooked on site in a tent next to the hangar, permits were needed. Lamont says she didn't expect the amount of paperwork needed.
Explains Lamont, "It seems to have been quite a process. That was something that surprised us. There seems to be an awful lot more red tape here to get through, to get permits and things."
"Any flammables have to be removed from the hangar," adds Kertzner. "We (had) to have two fire marshals on duty for the entire event."
On the ramp, Bombardier set up a static display of its business class aircraft. Sales staff and other employees were on hand to greet aircraft, invite aircraft owners to tour the static display, and to ask pilots to attend the party.
Meanwhile, National Jets Air Center at FLL had a barbeque for pilots, along with TVs in its lobby.
Galaxy Aerospace set up a static display under the canopy at Miami Executive Aviation at Opa Locka and sponsored catering for the FBO's party. TVs were set up in the lobby, says Karina Tajeda, customer service manager for the FBO.
At Banyan Air Service at FXE, Universal Weather came on board to sponsor catering with a Caribbean theme, and five large-screen TVs were set up in a hangar.
Marketing, coordinating efforts
A host of operators were contacted regarding preparations for the event, including: Barry Kertzner, the Jet Center GM; Tajeda and Guillermo Lares, vice president of sales and operations at Miami Executive; Robin Richards, customer service coordinator for Banyan; Cindy Ciaccio, customer service manager for National Jets; and Clayton Gamber, president of the Miami Aviation Corporation. Some highlights ...
• Securing ramp space: In a deal with the Broward County Aviation Department, the airport authority at FLL, the Jet Center made available ramp space to National Jets Air Center, a competing FBO, and the authority temporarily closed off three taxiways to allow enough space to park up to 250 aircraft near the Jet Center, says Kertzner. Banyan made use of extra space on its leasehold, 50 to 60 acres on the south end of FXE.
• Promotional materials: Bombardier took out a full page ad in Aviation International News (AIN) and sent out 3,000 direct mail pieces; all included the Jet Center's logo. The Jet Center placed some of its own ads in both AIN and Pro Pilot magazines, and, starting in November, the FBO gave out promotional pieces to customers. Miami Executive sent direct mail pieces to NBAA members and sponsored the official host committee for the Super Bowl. Banyan sent out 7,000 direct mailers and faxed pieces en masse to customers. National Jets advised customers of its party when they called or stopped in.
• Temporary help/staffing: The Jet Center secured extra temporary employees from the county; they were already badged and licensed to drive on the ramp. Miami Executive called in former employees and had a helicopter mechanic on hand. Other FBOs put all employees to work or on call for the weekend.
• Extra fuel trucks: The Jet Center and Banyan both have their own fuel farms and had enough trucks to handle the extra fuel sales. Miami Executive and National Jets received fuel truck assistance from their suppliers.
• Hotels, rental cars: At Banyan, package deals for hotels and rental cars were set up for those with reservations to avoid delays. Enterprise installed a temporary office at Miami Executive, and limousines and ground transportation were prepared in advance. Bombar-dier blocked off rooms at hotels for staff ahead of time and staked out two conference rooms at the Jet Center: one for a press conference on the Saturday before the game, one as an office for organizers.
• Contests, giveaways: Panama hats and bags plus a Ski-Doo jet ski, produced by Bombardier, were given away at the Bombardier/Jet Center party. Banyan ran a contest for Avtrip points. Multi Service provided footballs to 12 FBOs for giveaways and had sales reps on hand at the Jet Center and Miami Executive. At the latter, pilots were presented with freshly squeezed orange juice. Several companies sponsored holes on a putting green where customers took a shot to win Greg Norman golf shirts, hats with the FBO and Super Bowl logos, and footballs.
• Discounts: Both Miami Executive and Miami Aviation Corporation at Opa Locka offered a 25-cent discount on jet fuel that the airport authority, Dade County, advertised. Banyan offered special jet fuel prices of $1.59 or $1.25 plus the game score total.
While most held parties in lobbies, Banyan and the Jet Center used hangars. The Jet Center rigged its hangar with extra electrical power for the projection television set and other TVs.