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10 Essential Airport Marketing Tips

Written by:
Patrick Tracey
Published on:
26th September 2023

Looking to attract more travelers to your airport?

Hi there! I’m Pat Tracey. After a short-lived retirement, I’ve joined the incredible team at Airport One LLC – some of you might remember me as the Marketing & Air Service Manager at Appleton Airport (ATW). Well, I’m back, because I’m passionately committed to helping airports like yours grow.

My journey in airport marketing has been filled with its fair share of successes and setbacks, but as they say, FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. Through all my adventures, here are some of the most valuable airport marketing lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Highlight the Advantages of Flying Locally: Underscore the convenience of your airport, from shorter security lines to easier access. Let travelers know how effortless your airport is.
  2. Celebrate Every Destination: Go beyond just non-stops. Promote all the wonderful places consumers can reach from your airport within a day (especially those they can reach by noon). Set aside funds to spotlight both popular destinations and routes in need of support.  The latter could mean advertising either the non-stop flight or the most enticing destinations accessible from that connection point.  A quick Diio report will help you learn what percentage of your customers are connecting and where they are going most often.
  3. Ignite Emotions with Images: A powerful image can stir emotions and inspire travel. Ensure your ads use high-quality photos that evoke feelings of excitement, tranquility, wonder, or nostalgia. This not only captures attention but also sparks wanderlust.
  4. Redefine Time Beyond Flight Duration: When advertising, shift the narrative from flight time to the complete travel experience from one’s doorstep to the destination. For example, “Touch down in Los Angeles by noon” or “Reach Orlando in under 3 hours.”
  5. Promote Only Competitive Routes: Consumers are willing to pay extra for convenience, but airports must be mindful of pricing limits. Depending on your airport, the acceptable price premium may range from $150 to $300 or possibly more.  Steer clear of promoting routes that exceed this premium, as it will only create the perception that your airport is expensive.
  6. Guide Consumers to Search-to-Book: Effective advertising prompts consumers to explore and book flights. Add a Search-to-Book feature on your website to transform it into a selling machine. While ads drive initial traffic, consumers will return naturally. Why is this important? It allows you to avoid the need to continuously retarget the same consumer; this is akin to cycling with a flat tire – fun to watch, but unproductive!  Check out our Search-to-Book solution recently featured by Aviation Pros.
  7. Measure, Measure, Measure: Don’t shoot in the dark. Understand the impact of your advertising by tracking consumer movements through the purchase funnel. Also, ensure your tracking methods are future-proof and can operate in a world without cookies.
  8. Chase the best metrics:
    • Percentage of website visitors or ad clickers who search for flights.
    • Percentage of search results where consumers select a specific flight.
    • Percentage of consumers who book a flight.
  9. Enhance the Passenger Experience:  Providing a positive in-airport experience can result in customers returning. It is important to maintain cleanliness, efficiency, and create moments of unexpected joy. Don’t be afraid to get creative when creating smiles: The sandbox is much bigger than music, therapy dogs, or ice cream… Although, who can resist ice cream?
  10. Remember Pat’s Golden Rule: If there’s only one takeaway, let it be this: “Boosting local flight numbers requires effective communication of the airport’s benefits, inspiring travel, and facilitating a smooth booking process.”

After a 40-year career in travel and hospitality, Pat retired from Appleton Airport in 2023. He now drives business development for Airport One LLC, a company that operates at the intersection of marketing and technology to help airports grow.  Their flagship offering is FlyMyAirport™, an innovative Search-to-Book tool designed to improve the efficiency of airport websites and their marketing efforts.

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