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5 Creative Airport Destination Marketing Campaigns

25 Oct 2018
Sarah Marks

The tourism industry is booming. In 2017, the Travel and Tourism sector’s direct growth of 4.6% outpaced the global economy for the seventh successive year, and commercial airlines carried more than four billion passengers on scheduled flights worldwide – that’s over three quarters of a billion more than in 2014, and growth is predicted to continue.

While location is a primary contributor to the passenger volume of individual airports, marketing is another important factor when it comes to capturing a share of these customers, and outward-looking destination marketing offers real opportunities.

Today’s traveller demands new experiences from the destinations they visit, and destinations are keen to strike a balance of sustainable, healthy tourism. In the digital age, destination marketing is key to attracting the confidence of a more informed customer whose expectations of the travel experience are high.

Successful airport marketing campaigns can improve brand awareness, offer value-add promotions and enhance airport customer experience. Stay creative, and think about the experience you want to promote. Your campaign has the potential to present the deciding factors between your airport and the competition when the passenger books a trip.

Here are some great campaign ideas from airports around the world…

5 creative airport destination marketing campaigns

1. Social Media Engagement and Influencers
In 2017, Košice International Airport in Slovakia launched an award-winning interactive live campaign to promote new world destinations. Košice approached five influencers, challenging them to fly ‘around the world in 80 hours’. The participants received an envelope containing their boarding passes on arrival at the airport, and the entire 80-hour experience was streamed and shared online via their own online channels. Followers could interact with their journeys by, for example, directing them towards interesting locations within their reach.

The campaign From Košice Around The World In 80 Hours was shortlisted in three categories at the BEA World Festival where it received the silver award in the ‘Low Budget’ category and the bronze award in the ‘Use of Web and Social Media’ category.

2. Using Storytelling to Promote Destination
In 2017, Helsinki Airport was voted the best airport in the world in a survey by booking website Travellink. The airport used the accolade as the basis for a disruptive marketing campaign in the form of a series of videos in the style of a reality TV show. The basis for the campaign was the question, ‘Helsinki Airport wants to know if their airport is so good someone would actually live in it.’ This campaign may not focus on flight destinations from the airport but it definitely puts the passenger experience front and centre, showcasing the airport as a destination in itself.

Promoted using the hashtag #LIFEINHEL (the story of the world’s longest layover) and shared on channels including YouTube and social media, the video series chronicled the experience of Chinese actor and TV personality Ryan Zhu as he spent 30 days living in the airport. If he managed to stay for the full 30 days, the actor would win a trip to Lapland for himself and his family.

Zhu’s journey is full of highs and lows. Every day is planned with plenty of challenges and rewards, but the content is adapted to what happened in real time. Ultimately, the campaign proved a great way to strengthen Helsinki Airport’s brand and attract passengers to fly to and from Helsinki.

Given the current explosion in tourism from China, the use of a Chinese celebrity is also very pertinent in marketing Helsinki as a destination to a growing market of new travellers.

3. B2B Marketing Success
Birmingham Airport also developed a destinations campaign that won awards in 2017, this time focused on a B2B approach. Looking again to an emerging market, the Centre of Your World campaign was designed to present the airport as a global player for the World Routes Global Forum in China.

The campaign won the airport the Routes Europe 2017 Marketing Award in the 4-20 million passenger category for its marketing activity over the previous 12 months. It also resulted in more than two years of consecutive monthly record growth, including a rise in demand for long-haul seats of 29% year-on-year.

Since the campaign, the airport has launched a host of new carriers, with Blue Air, Qatar, CSA, Iberia, Cobalt and Alba Star joining in 2016, and in 2017, Birmingham welcomed Jet2, British Airways and Fly One.

4. Using a Mobile App to Showcase Destinations
According to Google Consumer Insights, 2018, 70% of U.S. travellers agree that they “always” use their smartphones when travelling. This rise, from 41% in 2015, indicates that customers are becoming increasingly comfortable with mobile, and their expectations of mobile apps are high.

Scandinavian Airlines used a successful campaign to promote the Point and Fly feature on their SAS app. The feature uses the compass and GPS capabilities on mobile devices to allow travellers to see Scandinavian Airlines destinations in whichever direction they are facing. They can then book direct from the app in a few simple steps, taking advantage of the customer’s wanderlust and ‘I want to get away’ feeling and engaging with the desire for convenience. This idea would easily translate to an airport app as a strongly visual, experiential and creative way to introduce and promote destinations.

5. Your Website as a Visual Destination Resource
Before you even consider large-scale marketing campaigns, it’s important to remember that your airport website can itself be an essential resource for travellers. Visuals play a big role in marketing, building a sustainable brand and in providing engaging experiences.

Gatwick Airport offers a fantastic tool for promoting their routes and destinations. The ‘Inspire me’ feature offers comprehensive destination guides with a search feature where passengers can plan their trip based on interests, including ‘Outdoors and adventure’, ‘Beach sun and swim’, ‘Instagram hotspots’, ‘Art and culture’ & more. Users can set preferences including month of travel and maximum flight time to best suit their needs. This integrated travel guide is a visual feast, packed with photography and storytelling in a responsive, mobile-optimised site.

A fully integrated booking and CRM solution like Rezcomm Travel comes with a visually exciting destinations guide with simple, direct booking capability. Rezcomm Travel combines inspirational design with a fully optimised user experience. Packed full of holidays, last-minute deals, flight offers, accommodation, car rental, transfers and much more, your customers have everything they need to create their perfect trip. Remember, there is no point in marketing your destinations and routes if your website creates a bumpy ride for anyone booking. Destination marketing starts at home, with a seamless online experience.

Working with a rapidly growing network of airports, Rezcomm provide a fully joined up solution that connects travellers with products and services at every stage of their journey. If you would like to speak to the team about how our products can help your airport promote destinations, build customer satisfaction and grow revenue, contact us today.

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