OK. Airport Marketing Month was actually longer than a month. But you get the idea. I had great fun really delving into the world of the top 100 U.S. airports and their Web presences.
I hope it was useful for you as well. In fact, I hope it was interesting for anyone who read the series. We all have very similar problems across all industries. I rarely see a weakness in one industry that I can’t find in another industry. The differences come with individual applications of the tools. One company might be a Web marketing superstar and another company in the same industry may be lead kicking and screaming to get online.
Let me ask you these yes or no questions:
- Do you think social media will get more popular?
- Do you think smartphone use will increase?
- Do you think newspaper readership will decrease?
- Do you think printed magazine readership will decrease?
- Do you think people will be watching more videos online?
- Do you think people will be spending more time online?
- Do you think people will be looking at more pictures online?
These questions have become rhetorical for me. Online media consumption is going up. Offline media consumption is going down. TV is the only one that is holding steady. That said, after eating, being online is the #2 thing we do while watching TV.
If you answered no to any of those questions please tell me which one and why you think so in the comments.
We all need to internalize the fact that things are changing. Permanently changing.
The change is happening because it is now cheap and easy to connect with people and to be heard. Humans are social creatures. I think we’re also lazy creatures. If we can be social without exerting too much extra energy we’re all for it. That’s the reason for the rise in social media. That’s why it’s not going anywhere.
So many of you airports are doing wonderful work. You are so caring and kind to your social media visitors. You truly care about offering a good experience. It’s very apparent. Your customers can see that you care. It’s clear as day online.
If you haven’t yet fully embraced social media here are my recommendations in order:
- Claim your Facebook page. You all have them even if you haven’t set them up for yourselves.
- Get an app for your phone like Hootsuite or Seesmic. These are going to make it really easy to post things and keep an eye on what is happening.
- Get a Twitter account. I don’t recommend this for every business. But I think it’s crucial for an airport. People will instantly follow you. It will be really useful for making announcements in a wide variety of situations. (You can update this also on Hootsuite or Seesmic.)
- Post a little something every now and then. You don’t have to be the greatest social media pro in the world. But I’m here to tell you: People want you to be in the social space. You really need to be there for them.
The next thing I want you to do is to be very clear about why you have a Web site. What is it for? I suspect each and every one of you would like more passengers. Your Web site can help you do that. Here are a few ways you can make that happen:
- Offer Live Chat on your site. I suspect there might be more than a few people that have questions that they might just like to ask someone.
- Take those questions and turn them into an ever growing Frequently Asked Questions Section. People like those too.
- Offer a printable pdf map of the airport for people to download.
- Feature any kind of sales your airlines are offering.
- Have a last minute deal page. (There are Friday’s where I start trolling airline sites for last minute deals. I’d get on an airplane that night if I found a good enough deal.)
- What about offering a contest for a free piece of luggage when you buy a ticket through your airport?
- How about a contest to get an express pass through security when you buy a ticket?
- How about a contest for free parking?
You get the idea. I’m not sure which of those are logistically possible or not. But my point is that your Web site can get you more passengers in your doors. It can do many, many things for you. You simply have to be laser beam clear what it is you want from your Web site. Then brainstorm ideas on how to achieve those goals. Then set up goals to determine if the campaign is successful or not. And then track it through some analytics tool.
Finally, I really want you all to consider paid search. It is the one area most of you are not engaged in. But I truly think you should be.
You need to think of a search results page like the page of a magazine. Imagine this:
The Sunday New York Times does an article about you. You know. Because you are awesome, your passengers love you. And you are changing the way people think about flying.
That article is great. It’s priceless. But do you know what would make it even better? A little ad for your airport right next to the article. That would push it totally over the edge.
Here’s the thing: Google search results are the story. The paid search ads are the advertisements between the stories.
Sure. You come up for your airport name and things like: Parking, rental cars, etc. But by purchasing the same phrase you are increasing your real estate.
I found many other companies bidding on these phrases already. They are only doing it because it’s working. They are stealing traffic from you. I guarantee someone types in “LAX parking” and goes to:
Or a dozen other sites before they go to the LAX parking page. That’s because the results for “LAX parking” look like this:
All of these advertisers are bidding on the LAX brand name and then using it in their ad. They have taken all that brand equity for their benefit. So much so that now there’s a price war going on.
laxparkplace.com is supposedly $4.49/day. That’s intense.
Just the same, you want your share of that. Even if you can’t beat the prices of these places you have one thing they’ll never have: You are the airport! That means a lot to people. There is nothing more convenient than parking at the actual airport. Maybe you can have a special online upgrade offer or something.
Oh! I have an idea. Would you like a free, private half hour consultation? I’d be willing to do that for 10 airports. I’ll set up an online webinar for us to meet and I’ll give you a personal evaluation of your site. All you have to do is ask for it in the contact us form and I’ll get it setup. It’s on a first come, first serve basis for the first 10 airports that ask for it.
And while I’m on ideas… my next step of this process is to do interviews with some airports about their experiences with online marketing and how it has impacted their business. My intention is to go around the social media spaces and ask some airports if they would be interested in doing one of these interviews. I think they’d be interesting to many different kinds of people. If you are interested in doing one of these please let me know in the contact us form.
I hope you found this information useful. I know it was very interesting for me. I’ll will be coming back to this topic occasionally when I notice something applicable to the airport world. So keep an eye out for that.