The travel industry traditionally works on a seasonal basis, with January typically being the busiest month for flight and hotel bookings. Why? Because once the excitement of Christmas and New Year has passed, people need something to look forward to. It’s also the time of year that airports, airlines and online travel agencies typically launch their sales, meaning customers can often secure flights, hotels and travel ancillaries at a lower price.
With high demand for flights and holidays at the start of the year, it makes sense that airports ramp up their marketing to drive as many sales as possible. However, once the seasonal campaigns have run their course, we often find airports’ marketing efforts lose momentum. While airports aren’t keen to max out their marketing budgets in the off-season, we would argue that by going radio silent, they miss out on valuable opportunities to engage with new and existing customers and potentially even lose them to their competitors.
Here we’ve shared eight ways your airport can improve its marketing strategies to drive engagement and grow your business out of season.
It might be tempting to slow down content creation once sales drop, but this is one of the most critical times to share exciting, memorable and useful content. Providing high-value email content will help to keep your audience engaged. And, for customers that do book holidays outside of the January peak, it will help to keep your airport at the front and centre of their minds.
Remember, you don’t necessarily need to be selling all of the time. Instead, share helpful and valuable content to build a stronger relationship with customers. Keeping customers and prospects informed about exciting developments such as new concessions within the terminal, new partnerships, and new routes and destinations is also important. It indicates that your airport is moving forward and embracing customer needs and expectations, which adds credibility and builds a ‘buzz’ around your brand.
For example, your marketing in early winter could focus on last-minute festive getaways, Christmas market experiences, and new summer destinations. Then, leading up to the summer holidays, you could share informative email content. For example, travel hacks about flying with young children or dynamic content such as travel guides and ideas for experiences, personalised to feature the destination booked by each customer.
Resource-wise, email marketing campaigns like this are easy to automate using Rezcomm’s handy Email Sending Service. Plus, with our Drag and Drop Email Builder, it’s quick and easy to update your travel guides periodically to promote new flights and destinations.
During your busiest flight booking months, when you’re in the middle of running marketing campaigns to convert existing prospects into passengers and re-engage customers, it is almost impossible to think about acquiring new customers. So, why not use the off-season to focus on customer acquisition instead?
Use Rezcomm’s automated email marketing tools to develop a streamlined, engaging ‘nurture workflow’ and use it to develop relationships with new prospects before your next busy season.
The off-season provides the perfect opportunity to build brand awareness and educate prospective customers on what your airport offers. So, by the time peak season hits, you’ll already have an established relationship that will put you ahead of your competitors.
It may seem logical to reduce the focus on email marketing and social media campaigns and cut advertising 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 getaway. For example:
Paid search is also fundamental and should never completely stop. 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.
Customer reviews and user-generated content play significant roles in the customer lifecycle, particularly during the first Active Evaluation stage, where a customer decides to take a flight and research their options.
Customer reviews can increase conversions by a whopping 270%, and Brits claim to read through ‘at least 14 reviews‘ online before booking a holiday, showing just how important they are to your airport. With this in mind, it makes sense to use the off-season to gather more reviews from existing customers via marketing emails and social media.
The off-season is also a fantastic time to gather and share user-generated content, such as travel photos, videos, blogs and reviews. According to Stackla, 86% of people say they’ve gained interest in a specific destination after seeing user-generated content. Plus, 92% of people say they trust recommendations from other people, even if they don’t know them, proving user-generated content has a vital role in your airport marketing campaigns.
The easiest way to gather user-generated content is to ask for it. Mention it in your marketing emails and on social media. Ask customers to tag your airport in their posts or use a hashtag to make it easy for you to find their content.
You might also consider offering loyalty points to encourage customers to leave a review or share your airport content. Or, perhaps you could create a competition that increases your airport’s user-generated content and social sharing. As we said before, the more visible your airport is, the better!
Instead of resigning yourself to the traditional peak booking period, create offers that will entice your customers to book with your airport, even during the off-season. For example, promoting special discounts on winter sun getaways or two-for-one romantic city breaks around Valentine’s Day.
Think about the types of trips customers might be interested in at certain times of the year, and tailor your marketing content, offers and incentives around these destinations and experiences.
Your airport is more than just a gateway! People don’t necessarily need to have a flight booked to visit your airport, but they won’t know if you don’t tell them that. So, market your airport as a destination in its own right. Build excitement around your retail stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Consider collaborating with your retail and hospitality partners to put on exclusive events and sell tickets 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 itself 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 whilst there.
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 locally to your airport? 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.
It’s also worth targeting business passengers who will use your airport all year round. Share exclusive offers with them 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.
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 those things. For example, you might want to revamp your airport ecommerce website, clean up your database, research new airport partners or carry out split testing on your email marketing campaigns.
So instead of shutting down your airport marketing during the slower months, use the time to optimise your strategy, get to know your customers and boost audience engagement. Doing so will ensure your airport is better placed for a profitable peak season both in terms of bookings and providing an excellent customer experience at the airport.
Use our state-of-the-art marketing modules to create engaging, revenue-boosting campaigns and benefit from the expertise of our travel marketers. We’re here to help you get the most out of your marketing efforts all year round. Get in touch to find out more.
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