Potential Passengers: Competition Among Regional Airports
Knowing Your Target Customer Is Critical
To many airports and communities, it’s clear that they are not the only choice for potential passengers traveling to or from their geographic proximity. Most airports are close to alternate airports and have competition for passengers. To effectively compete for potential passengers in the air travel industry, knowing your target customer is critical. You also must know about passenger airport decision factors.
Every Airport Has At Least One Competitive Advantage Over Alternate Airport Options
The amount of air service offered, lower airfares, and other features offered at alternative airports may seem daunting to compete against at your local airport, but you will always have the advantage of closest proximity to many potential passengers, This competitive advantage can help you capture certain passenger types. Of the factors affecting flying travelers when making their airport choice, you will see more than one feature and benefit that you can use to convince potential passengers to select flights to/from your community airport. Airports that maximize their passenger enplanements, promote all of their best sales features and communicate these effectively in their community and to inbound destination travelers.
Tailor Your Messaging To The Right Potential Passenger Segment
Once you’ve determined your airport’s competitive strengths, the most effective way to maximize your passenger capture is to find the right passenger segment(s) to target. In general, you shouldn’t communicate location convenience and low airport hassle factor airport features to a leisure traveler who only flies when stimulated by super-low fares. You also shouldn’t focus on promoting low fares to business travelers to whom flight time choices, low total travel time, flight convenience, and service reliability is more important. For the business traveler, you might want to advertise in the local chamber/economic development newsletter or the local business newspaper with your messaging mentioning the reliability, time and convenience factors most critical to them. Potential passengers not necessarily planning a leisure trip, can be stimulated to take a trip due to super-low fares. You might look at communicating low-fare opportunities through the local newspaper or direct email announcements through the local tourism agency and social clubs to low fare driven passengers.
Not All Passenger Types Value Air Service/Airport Decision Factors The Same
While business or leisure passenger segments can often share priorities within their passenger type as it concerns how they weigh airport choice factors, there are many subsets to the segments with different valuation concerns as it regards their air travel. While business travelers are less resistant to high airfares, some business travelers may decide to meet customers via conference call or Go to Meeting instead of flying, based on the high cost of airfares. While many leisure travelers make travel choices based on low fares; where convenience and travel time weigh less in their travel choices, some leisure travelers are willing to pay a higher fare for more convenience and shorter total travel time based on the nature of their leisure trip.
Situations Also Drive Potential Passengers Air Service/Airport Decisions
It is important to note that the specific travel reasons involved in a potential travel decision is more important to the airport/air service choice than the passenger segment type making the choice. A business trip to close a big business deal, may place more weight on travel time and convenience over cost, than a trip to an industry conference for business travelers where cost might be a bigger factor in their decision. A flight to a family wedding may raise the price these leisure travelers are willing to pay for their air ticket while a flight for a vacation may need a lower air cost, or total air and lodging cost to trigger a passenger buying decision.
Does Your Airport Know What the Potential Passenger Mix is? The Best Sales Features of your Airports Current Air Service? Which Passenger Type(s) Should Be Targeted?
Note: The above generalizes air customer type trends. Individual passengers within an air customer type can vary on the weight they place on various air service/airport decision factors.
If your airport doesn’t know who is currently using the airport, nor who could be using the airport based on competitive features, your airport is likely not maximizing passenger capture. The road to maximizing potential passengers capture (to/from your region) is in identifying the airport’s strengths and then effectively targeting and communicating with the passenger target segments these features will benefit most.
If your airport doesn’t have strengths for a passenger type you are looking to acquire, you need to build-up these strengths before you can successfully attract this passenger segment.
Regular Comparative Regional Airport Competitive Analysis
You need to analyze not only your local airport but also the relative strength of your local airport against the alternative airports in the region. While the major hub airport 200 miles away with many non-stop flights to different destinations may seem a tough egg to crack in competing for potential passengers, your airport always has some competitive advantages (proximity, easier access into the national transportation system, etc.). The key to maximizing your passenger usage of your airport is in effectively identifying your strengths and playing up those strengths to the right passenger segments.
Has your airport identified its strengths and weaknesses in relation to air passenger segment targets in your regional airport competition lately?
Community Flights works with communities, organizations or businesses on leveraging the great economic asset that air service is for economic gain. Community Flights specializes in helping tourism dominant air service communities maximize the return on their air service investment. Scott Stewart formed Community Flights in January 2013 to help mobilize community support efforts and guide communities and clients in bridging the “air service understanding gap” with the airlines to create an airline and community win-win air service support and performance environment. You can find more info about Community Flights at www.communityflights.com . Contact Scott Stewart directly at 970-759-3559 or [email protected]