Reg Wright says he never had that “aha” moment that drove him into aviation, but he did grow up in Gander, where he has been with the Gander International Airport Authority since 2004, and cares greatly about its success. “The airport is the primary economic generator here in a town of 10,000 and I grew up with the aviation world in my backyard,” he says.
Wright is solely responsible for all marketing, public relations, communications, community outreach and air service development, most of which he undertakes in-house without the support of consultants or advertising agencies. In his 10 years in the position, the airport has enjoyed a 105 percent growth in scheduled passenger traffic, going from a single daily destination served by an 18-seat turboprop to six year-round destinations, including new service to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Goose Bay, Labrador; Toronto, Ontario; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Varadero, Cuba. The airport won three awards in the recent Airports Council International-North America Excellence in Marketing and Communications event. For its work in supporting tourism, the airport received Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s–the voice of Newfoundland’s tourism industry–Corporate Partner of The Year Award for 2012.
Wright remarks that the marketing toolkit has changed profoundly in recent years. “It has evolved from what used to be a ‘let me tell you what our company can do for you’ monologue to a true, two-way discussion and dialogue with customers,” he says. “That dialogue is increasingly digital, but you need to be careful that it doesn’t replace the human contact and relationships the whole industry is founded upon.”
Before joining the GIAA, Wright spent five years as an economic development officer for the Canadian equivalent of the county development board. Earlier, he worked in public relations and spent 10 years working as a journalist in print and radio.
Wright serves on a number of community organizations and provides pro bono marketing support to numerous events and non-profit groups throughout the community. He also serves on the Provincial government’s Air Access Advisory Board.