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5 Ways for Regional Airports to Master Destination Marketing

14 Jan 2020
Victoria Wallace

Regional airports are reimagining destination marketing in creative, customer-centric ways. The common perception is that smaller airports serve a limited number of destinations, and that their operations might not be as sophisticated as those of their larger competitors. But these airports have an opportunity to stand out, offering a more unique, engaging and personalised experience.

The integration of ecommerce has opened up a world of potential. Customers are now able to book flight tickets and parking directly through the airport website. This means that the airport can capitalise on rich passenger data and develop brand loyalty. In a modern digital landscape where an almost bespoke level of customer service is key, smaller airports are strongly placed to build excellent, meaningful relationships with their passengers, and to offer a unique passenger experience that sets them apart from larger hubs.

However, many regional airports are still buying into perceived limitations. When they send out marketing campaigns, they only promote their own destinations. In order to realise their potential, these airports must extend their marketing strategies in four ways. They must:

  1. Market all of the locations they serve
  2. Establish the airport as a hub for long-haul connections
  3. Sell their own location as an exciting destination for inbound flyers
  4. Find creative ways to supplement the travel ecommerce offering with exclusive products

Thanks to advances in ecommerce technology, airports are now able to build a fully integrated booking and marketing strategy that not only benefits their partner airlines, it allows customers to see the full range of available destinations too. The majority of consumers don’t even realise that their local airport acts as a hub for a wide array of long-haul destinations, and some travellers simply avoid booking less well-known destinations because of a lack of information.

With this in mind, Southend Airport has built a successful destination strategy by partnering with tourist agencies to add customer-driven value to its destination pages. This drives traffic as well as providing much-needed information about the airport’s destinations, and the result is direct impact on bottom line in terms of both revenue and awareness.

With Rezcomm’s world-first integrated ecommerce platform for airports it is possible to change the image of your regional airport, making it more desirable to your customers than a major hub. Let’s look at five ways you can use this technology to support your destination marketing campaigns and build a buzz around flying from your airport…

5 Destination Marketing Tips for Regional Airports

1. Optimise your social profiles

Social media is still a powerful tool for B2C marketing. In 2018, 79% of travel marketers used sponsored adverts on Facebook, allocating 30% of their digital spend to social platforms. This was despite the fact that users are increasingly blocking sponsored posts on social feeds. In 2019, 30% of users employed some sort of ad blocker, with top reasons being too many ads (48%), ads are annoying or irrelevant (47%) and ads are too intrusive (44%).

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to create valuable interactions with existing and potential customers on social media without resorting to paid ads. You could design competitions – destination-focused giveaways centred on user-generated content such as photos or videos and making use of hashtags – or raise awareness of new or underperforming routes with a prize draw to win tickets.

The information in your CRM system can be used to enhance your social media marketing, build copycat customer profiles, and target existing passengers ensuring that the sponsored posts they do see are relevant and interesting to them. You can also link your email campaigns to social profiles, making content shareable, interactive and engaging.

A recent report from Stakla revealed that the posts with the most influence when it comes to generating bookings aren’t the carefully branded content or the perfect, stock visuals. And only 48% of travellers say social content from a celebrity or influencer has sparked their interest in a specific destination. The biggest attraction is user-generated content, with a massive 86% of people (and 92% of Gen Z) saying their interest in a particular destination was sparked by seeing photos or feedback on a friend’s timeline.

When you’re creating content for social media, remember, shorter posts and visual content are known to produce the highest level of engagement. Use destination videos and photos to drive interaction with your posts, and share reviews and facts to entertain and inform your audience. This is your chance to inspire!

2. Touch down with great landing pages

Landing pages are an effective way of driving conversion. Companies that create 30 or more landing pages attract 7 times more leads than businesses using fewer than 10. And landing pages can generate up to 220% more leads than a standard call-to-action (CTA).

In destination marketing landing pages provide an ideal way to promote the full range of locations served by your airport. Rezcomm’s integrated solution automatically categorises each destination by holiday ‘theme’, and these themes can form the basis of your landing pages. For example, a landing page based on a ‘beach’ theme could feature all of the sun, sand and sea resorts that can be reached through your airport, and link directly to the relevant pages for flight, hotel and activity bookings on your airport website.

A landing page doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should encourage your site visitors to make a buying decision as quickly as possible. You can achieve this with compelling images, great copywriting, offers that add value for your passengers, and most importantly a strong call to action. Incredibly, given that over 52.5% of all web traffic in 2018 originated from mobile devices, only half of landing pages are optimised for mobile devices. Don’t block your customer’s path-to-purchase. Ensure that your pages read and function perfectly across devices.

There is much more information about optimised landing pages in our Rezcomm blog.

3. Inspire with strong Calls to Action

Sometimes website visitors need an extra push to click a button. This is where an attractive but assertive call to action is necessary. You can help them to understand what you want them to do, and make it easy for them to do it.
Don’t rely on attractive images or videos and “do this”, “do that” instructions to sell your destinations. Inspire your visitors to book with an enticing CTA on any page where you want to drive them to your shop. Use travel-orientated and inspirational verbs such as “Plan” and “Discover” or action-focused phrases like, “Begin Your Journey”.

When it comes to writing an effective CTA, the message should be straightforward and clear, but you should also avoid being too generic. A good CTA should be no longer than 150 characters and feature a statement that inspires and instructs such as, “Plan Your Dream Holiday Today,” and not just “Book Now”.

All of your CTA buttons can be linked directly to the relevant page on your airport website, making it as easy as possible for visitors to start booking their trips. One of the main barriers to conversion is a long and complicated checkout process. Rezcomm’s shopping cart features intuitive, brand-matched, responsive booking forms that validate and expand as the customer proceeds, giving clear visual reassurance and trust throughout the booking.

4. Use email marketing to stay in touch

Email marketing is still the single most successful platform when it comes to conversion, generating $38 for every one dollar spent, representing an astonishing 3800% ROI. Email is not only great for driving sales, it’s valuable for showcasing relevant destinations to your subscribers, who may not have been aware of their choices.

Email travel campaigns can be seasonal. Think winter holiday promotions for winter months, family fun breaks for the summer and romantic getaways for February. They can also more directly promote a location by providing rich content such as facts about the location, immersive video, customer reviews and special offers.

The email workflows in Rezcomm’s solutions can be used to automate email marketing alongside the powerful segmentation provided by the CRM system. This makes it easy to inform your subscribers about new relevant offers and destinations, and this will help you to build relationships with your customers and develop brand loyalty. Check out our Rezcomm knowledge bank for more up-to-the-minute tips about email marketing for airports.

5. Use widgets to inspire your site visitors

Raise destination the second a potential customer lands on your homepage simply by integrating the widgets available as part of Rezcomm’s integrated ecommerce solutions. These widgets encourage website visitors to interact and to click through to your shop window. They can be tailored to your airport’s branding for a seamless experience.

The destination inspirational search tool can be used to provide a personalised experience for website visitors, responding to their individual preferences and buying habits, while the travel map is a fun and interactive way of exploring new locations.

With the help of these five destination-marketing strategies, regional airports can increase revenue and create a world-class customer experience. These methods are tried and tested ways of informing potential passengers about all of the destinations on offer. By using a white label online travel agency (OTA) such as Rezcomm, you will further cement your airport’s position in the marketplace. When you begin to explore the potential of destination marketing, your airport will take its first steps towards becoming a regional powerhouse, enhancing your local community, competing with big hubs and adding real value to your customers.

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