Capital Region International Airport’s Lead Offers Successful Strategies for Upping Your Company’s Marketing Profile

They are marketing axioms that predate human flight: Know how your customers think. Understand how your organization stands out from the competition. Communicate effectively to promote your strengths.

 Those key components of successful marketing are helping to boost the fortunes of Capital Region International Airport.

In the past decade, Lansing’s airport has had to overcome challenges that confront many Greater Lansing businesses —industry cutbacks, Michigan’s economic downturn and slowed consumer demand due to unemployment and loss of income.

In addition, like virtually all of the nation’s other regional airports, Capital Airport has experienced airline industry consolidation, a dramatic decline in air travel after the 9/11 attacks and the Great Recession, which prompted more fliers to stay home.

In response, Capital Region Airport Authority President and CEO Bob Selig and his team devised a new marketing campaign.

They have integrated traditional strategies with modern technologies to trumpet the airport’s best qualities, such as convenience and service excellence, and deliver that message to familiar audiences in new and exciting ways.

The new Capital Region International Airport campaign is producing tangible results: The airport’s passenger count totaled 296,935 through September of this year, a 9 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

The airport’s marketing efforts offer a model that any Greater Lansing business can emulate to up its profile.

Research is Key

In addition to navigating broad economic trends, Selig and his staff had to consider a marketing peculiarity that is innate to all airports; it controls only part of the flying experience, which is the physical location — or place — of departures and arrivals.

Other key components — the price of airplane tickets, flight schedules and destinations — are controlled by the airlines that use the airport. In other words, unlike many businesses, Capital Region International Airport typically has little influence over individual components of the traditional four P’s of marketing: price, product, promotion and place.

Given those realities, the airport has focused on promoting its unique “place” in the travel marketplace, an effort whose foundation is informative, comprehensive statewide market research.

The research has helped Selig’s team identify what Michigan travelers like most about the airport: its cleanliness, convenience and easy-access location. In a nutshell, people are happy to fly out of the airport because it is easy to use and get to.

To help spread that message, Capital Region International Airport has developed an advertising and marketing campaign highlighting the slogan “Travel Simplified.” Ads for the campaign are designed to convey how simple it is to Fly Lansing and are beginning to appear throughout the state, targeting both business and leisure travelers.

The marketing collateral is also prominently displayed on Capital Region International Airport’s Facebook page, a technological tool that, like many businesses, the airport launched in 2012 and is increasingly used to interact with consumers and other stakeholders.

The concept of simplicity also extends to the airport’s website. The airport has updated the site to make it more user friendly so that travelers can book flights, check flight statuses and obtain other information.

Airlines Carrying the Load

At its core, an airport marketing plan involves helping one key customer —airlines — attract another primary constituent — passengers. The better an airport is at attracting the latter, the more success it will have in wooing the former.

Capital Region International Airport is on a hot streak when it comes to increased flying options.

Last year, Sun Country Airlines introduced nonstop daily flights from Lansing to Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. As part of its 2012-13 Winter Travel schedule, Sun Country is offering new twice-weekly nonstop service to Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The airline will also resume nonstop service to popular winter destinations: Cancun, Punta Cana and Orlando, flying into Orlando’s most convenient airport, Orlando International Airport (MCO). And Sun Country has connections from Lansing through Minneapolis to Phoenix, San Diego, Palm Springs, Fort Myers, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In November, Las Vegas-based Allegiant launched nonstop service between Lansing and Orlando, Fla. The twice-weekly flights represent a return to Lansing for Allegiant, which pulled out of the market three years during the depths of the Great Recession.

The airport’s recent spate of success carries a message that applies to businesses of all stripes: During economically challenging times, don’t be afraid to break with tradition and adopt new marketing strategies.

Mike Turner is a public relations specialist at Pace & Partners, a Lansing-based marketing communications firm founded in 1978.







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