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8 Off-Season Marketing Ideas for Airports

15 Nov 2022
Sarah Marks

Are you looking for off-season marketing ideas for your airport? We like your thinking. While many businesses give up marketing in the off-season through fear they’re shouting into the abyss, for airports, the off-season is a fantastic time to engage with customers, increase brand awareness and market your airport as a destination everyone should visit.

Join us as we discuss the value of building an off-season marketing strategy for your airport and useful ideas to help you get started.

What is off-season marketing for airports?

The travel industry traditionally works on a seasonal basis, which means that only part of the year brings in most of the bookings and revenue. The rest of the year is known as the ‘off-season’ when business slows and demand for flights, holidays and hotels drops considerably.

January is typically one of the busiest months for flight and hotel bookings because people need something to look forward to once the excitement of Christmas and New Year has passed. It’s also the time of the year that airports, airlines and online travel agencies typically launch their sales, meaning customers can often secure flights, hotels and holiday packages at a lower price.

While it’s great to plan and maximise your airport marketing budgets and resources for the busy booking period, it’s important not to let it slow to a halt in the off-season. By going radio silent, you risk missing out on valuable opportunities to engage with new and existing customers, potentially even losing them to your competitors.

Below we’ve shared 8 ways to improve your airport marketing in the off-season to attract new bookings, keep customers engaged and drive non-aeronautical revenue.

1. Maintain an active travel content calendar

It may be tempting to slow down your airport’s travel content creation in the off-season and allocate the time elsewhere. However, continuing to share engaging and helpful travel content on your airport blog, social media and in marketing emails will keep you at the forefront of customers’ minds. So, if they decide to book travel in the off-season or wait to book a trip at peak time, they’re more likely to choose your airport over a competitor.

Maintaining an active content calendar is crucial to your airport website’s SEO. Search engines love fresh content, so by creating new travel articles on your blog or even updating existing blog posts and re-publishing them, you stand a higher chance of increasing your search rankings for related keywords.

Remember, your travel content doesn’t need to come with a hard sell. Instead, use the off-season to share helpful and valuable content to strengthen customer relationships. For example:

  • Create email and social media content to keep customers and prospects informed about exciting developments at your airport, such as new retail concessions, routes and destinations.
  • Share any events happening at your airport in the off-season, such as VIP shopping days, book signings, and family events that bring people into your airport and increase non-aeronautical revenue when it’s quieter.
  • Strengthen your travel content that influences customers in the ‘Active Evaluation’ stage of the Customer Lifecycle, where they’re researching destinations and deciding whom to book with, such as travel guides. Consider segmenting your email database to ensure you personalise marketing content for customers.

Use Rezcomm’s Drag & Drop Email Builder to create quick and easy email marketing campaigns in the off-season. The Rezcomm CMS is also handy for updating your airport blog and travel guides, with easy tools for non-developers.

2. Engage with new airport customers

During the peak travel booking season, you will likely focus your marketing efforts on converting existing prospects into passengers and retaining loyal customers. In the off-season, we suggest honing in on customer acquisition.

Use Rezcomm’s email marketing tools, which include a Drag & Drop Email Builder and Email Sending Service, to develop a ‘nurture workflow’ and use it to engage with new customers, sharing content such as:

  • Information about your travel products and services to increase brand awareness
  • User-generated photos, videos and reviews to build brand trust
  • Incentives (like a discount on first bookings) to give prospective customers the extra push to book their next journey with your airport.

It’s also a great time to run a contest or giveaway on your airport’s social media channels, where people can enter to win flights or a hotel stay. Even if prospective customers aren’t ready to book travel yet, no one will want to pass up on winning such a great prize, and at the same time, they’ll learn about your travel offerings.

Lastly, encourage loyal customers to help you acquire new customers in the off-season by awarding extra loyalty points for referrals.

3. Increase your airport’s visibility online

It may seem logical to cut your paid advertising and marketing budgets once the peak booking season is over, but this is likely to have a knock-on effect, limiting your success during the next busy period. So instead, keep your airport marketing campaigns running at total capacity, tailoring your messaging to address seasonal needs and concerns.

Share content throughout the autumn and winter to help your customers plan their summer getaways. For example:

  • Destination guides featuring top attractions and experiences
  • Airport updates about your facilities and customer service efforts
  • Helpful customer information about what to expect at your airport
  • Upgrade opportunities for boarding, parking or lounge access

Paid search is also fundamental and should always continue. While you wouldn’t spend the same during quiet times as during peak season, people continue to search for flights at a relatively high level throughout the year. Paid search will help your airport maintain the online visibility you have already worked hard to create.

And don’t forget to remain active on social media to stay connected with your customers. People will access social media to get more information about your airport, seek out flight offers and enter any travel competitions you’re running, so the content must be fresh and engaging, even during the off-season.

Use the Rezcomm Social Media Scheduler to efficiently plan, review and publish travel content across all platforms.

4. Build up a bank of user-generated content for your airport

Did you know that customer reviews can increase conversions by a whopping 270%? In addition, Brits claim to read at least 14 reviews online before booking a holiday, showing just how crucial they are to your airport marketing.

With this in mind, we suggest using the off-season to build up a bank of customer reviews for your airport. The easiest way to do it is to ask customers directly. Send a marketing email to previous customers with a clear Call to Action button that asks them to leave a review. And if, at first, you don’t succeed, consider a follow-up email offering customers loyalty points in exchange for an honest review.

Along with collecting customer reviews, it’s also a wise idea to use the off-season to gather user-generated content, like travel photos and videos from customers. According to Nosto, 86% of people choose a specific destination after seeing user-generated content. In addition, 92% of people also say they trust recommendations from others, even if they don’t know them, proving just how important user-generated content is to your airport marketing campaigns.

One of the best ways to gather user-generated content for your airport is to ask for it on social media like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Ask customers to tag your airport in their posts or use a hashtag to make it easy for you to find their content. Ensure you get customers’ permission before using their photos and videos on your airport social media platforms, website, or email marketing campaigns.

Again, offering loyalty points can go a long way in encouraging customers to share their content with you. Or, perhaps you could create a contest that increases your airport’s user-generated content and social sharing.

It’s all about making it fun and engaging for customers while increasing the online visibility of your airport.

5. Incentivise customers to book travel during the off-season

Consider creating off-season specials to incentivise customers to book with your airport out of season. Use previous booking data to determine the type of holidays and destinations customers are most interested in so you can send out personalised email content and offers.

Nothing sparks spending like FOMO (fear of missing out), so why not run a flash sale or limited-time offer? Use countdown timers in your marketing emails and on social media to encourage customers to book now rather than later.

It’s also worth thinking about turning travelling in the off-season into a positive. For example, you could create a travel guide on ‘10 things you can do in Iceland in the off-season’ and share all of the things people can do when there are fewer tourists around.

6. Market your airport as a destination

Airports – you are more than just a gateway. People don’t have to be passengers to visit your airport, but they won’t know that if you don’t tell them. Market your airport as a destination in its own right by building excitement around your retail stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Consider collaborating with your retail and hospitality partners to create exclusive events and sell reservations via your airport ecommerce website.

Rezcomm previously worked with Belfast International Airport on a Christmas shopping event for friends and family of the airport staff. As well as boosting the revenues of retail partners and duty-free outlets, the airport also invited local artisan retailers into the airside terminal to sell their goods. The 4000+ guests paid an entrance fee of £2 per person, which Belfast International Airport split between two charities. In addition, the airport benefited from the opportunity to capture customer data for future marketing use.

The off-season is also a great time to market your airport tours. Showcase your airport to customers with pre-book tour tickets they can reserve via your airport ecommerce website. Offer VIP passes to access exclusive areas of your airport, encouraging customers to visit your retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.

7. Reach out to a local audience

We’ve already touched on using the off-peak season to acquire new customers, but why not consider marketing to new audiences, too, like the people who live and work locally? Think about the services, facilities, and experiences you can provide that might appeal to them, and encourage locals to visit your airport with enticing offers.

Hold exclusive events for locals to build goodwill and market your airport as somewhere they can go shopping, meet friends for coffee, hold a business meeting and bring the family for a fun day out. Also, consider offering exclusive discounts for locals to encourage them to continue supporting your airport throughout the year.

It’s also worth targeting business passengers who will use your airport all year round. Share exclusive offers to encourage them to book time in your airport lounge or visit one of your restaurants for a pre-flight meal. Offer meeting room reservations to utilise your space effectively and boost additional revenue through marketing equipment rental, pre-order food and beverage and parking facilities to your business customers.

8. Work your way through your airport marketing ‘to-do’ list

Every marketing department will have some jobs that there isn’t time for during the peak season. The slower selling months are the perfect time to tackle your ‘to-do’ list. For example, your airport marketers might want to:

  • Fine-tune your airport marketing plan for the busy season
  • Review your airport website, making sure travel booking CTA buttons are visible
  • Cleaning up your email list
  • Reviewing your airport marketing emails, ensuring they signpost customers to your travel booking pages
  • Training airport staff on good PR for your airport to ensure everyone is delivering the right marketing message to customers
  • Focus on offline marketing, such as banners in your airports, ensuring you are promoting travel bookings everywhere, including places like the backs of trolleys and airport luggage conveyor belts

It’s all about getting down to the nitty-gritty and ensuring you’re covering your bases!

Improve your airport’s off-season marketing with Rezcomm

Don’t let your airport marketing slide in the off-season. Use the quieter period to your advantage to continue building your airport brand while engaging with new and existing customers.

Use Rezcomm’s state-of-the-art Marketing modules to create exciting, revenue-boosting campaigns and benefit from ongoing support from our travel experts. Download our Marketing Brochure and Book a Meeting to get started.