Greenville-Spartanburg Int’l Produces Podcasts to Showcase Airport and Region

Greenville-Spartanburg Int’l Produces Podcasts to Showcase Airport and Region
Victoria Soukup
Published in: 

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) focuses on moving people and cargo 365 days a year. Last year, the Upstate South Carolina airport entered a new arena—broadcasting—when it launched Carolina Traveler, a podcast about the airport and region.

Since its debut in February 2021, the now-weekly segment has attracted a local and national following with more than 3,000 downloads. This July, GSP will upload its 50th episode.

Airport officials consider the broadcasting venture a great low-cost initiative that helps maintain contact with current and potential customers. Start-up costs are estimated at $1,500, and GSP pays $20 per month for hosting services.


Project: Broadcasting Podcasts

Location: Greenville-Spartanburg (SC) Int’l Airport

Podcast Title: Carolina Traveler

Distribution: Content is uploaded to about 20 different directories including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts & Spotify

Audience: Visitors & area residents

On-Air Host: Airport Communications Manager

Launched: Feb. 2021

Current Frequency: Weekly

Start-Up Costs: $1,500

Ongoing Expenses: $20 per month for uploading service by Buzzsprout

Key Benefits: Showcasing airport; promoting regional events & attractions; keeping in touch with customers (especially during COVID pandemic)

Airport staff developed the new marketing vehicle in-house during the early phases of the pandemic, when air travel throughout the country was at record lows. “COVID was really the impetus for this project,” says Scott Carr, who up until late May served as the airport’s vice president of Commercial Business and Communications. “We wanted to connect with travelers who may or may not be traveling during the pandemic, to ensure they keep GSP relevant and top-of-mind.”

The message they want to communicate: “You may not be traveling today or tomorrow, but you may have a need in the future. We want GSP to be your airport of choice for the region.”

Immediate Popularity

The podcast is produced and hosted by the airport’s communications manager, Michelle Newman. In the beginning, Newman developed about a dozen podcasts each quarter and released all of them at the same time, like the format some streaming services use for television series. But interest was so strong that GSP switched to a weekly format last October. Now, a new episode “drops” every Wednesday evening.

Listeners can access them on the airport website and through about 20 directories, including major outlets such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Like social media posts, the strength of each podcast lies in forwards and likes because they create additional exposure among people who might not otherwise look at GSP’s website. 

Content for the podcasts is guided by two objectives: reaching local residents who want a little more information about the airport or region, and connecting with visitors who are coming to the area for business or pleasure.

Carr notes that only 40% of the podcast’s regular listeners are based in Upstate South Carolina. “We think that’s interesting, because it appears we’re connecting with folks looking for inbound travel,” he remarks. “We’re reaching individuals who might be coming into the area to spend a long weekend or vacation and are looking for things to do while here.”

Multiple Headliners

From the beginning, GSP knew it didn’t want Carolina Traveler to be only about the airport. “If we do a behind-the-scenes look at airport operations on the podcast, it’s super-interesting for the audience of aviation people,” says Newman. “But we wanted people interested in travel and tourism to also be our audience. So we knew we wanted two audiences—those coming into GSP for the very first time as well as those who live in the area who might be looking for some of the hidden gems in their own backyard.”

Podcast topics have included how the airport attracts new air service, how it handles snow removal during winter storms and interviews with GSP President/Chief Executive Officer Dave Edwards. Non-airport installments have covered the South Carolina Comicon convention and a popular local festival called Fall for Greenville. One podcast that effectively straddled both categories was about a local middle school band that plays at the airport during the holidays.

Most of the podcast subjects evolve from community involvement by airport staff or suggestions from guests. “Other ideas have come from networking events with the local Chamber of Commerce or economic development association where the airport is involved,” Newman adds. “Also, I have been a long-time resident of Upstate South Carolina, so I am familiar with a lot of topics that might interest others.”

Newman handles booking guests and recording, editing and uploading content to Buzzsprout. It then uploads the segments to podcast directories on Apple, Google, Spotify, etc. Newman conducts nearly all of the interviews in person; most take about 30 to 60 minutes. After each interview, she edits the conversation down to about 15 minutes. The shortest podcast she has produced is 12 minutes. The longest, 1½ hours, features an interview with a local historian who grew up near the small farming community that once occupied the land GSP now calls home. The podcast featuring his insights about the history of the region is the most popular episode to date. It narrowly beat out an episode about airport snow removal.

Newman uses a Blue Yeti microphone and edits with Adobe Audition. She estimates each podcast takes about two hours of editing and uploading, in addition to her interviewing and travel time.

Positive Feedback

Buzzsprout and the major directories provide GSP with data about its podcast. Each platform has its own tracking abilities, and statistics are aggregated through Buzzsprout. This provides the airport with information about where listeners are from and which platforms have the most downloads.

Although Newman suspected Carolina Traveler would be popular, she has been amazed by just how popular it has become. “When we started doing the podcasts, the pandemic was at its peak; so marketing the airport and travel was very difficult,” she recalls. “We wanted to find a way to continue talking about travel and continue reaching our customers. Podcasts were a really fun way to speak directly with our audiences, and we’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback.”

Carr notes that the airport has a lot of ideas in the pipeline for future podcasts and doesn’t think it will ever run out of topics to cover. “We’re always doing something new at the airport,” he remarks. “In some ways, the Carolina Traveler podcast is an extension of our newsletter. It’s just a different format and a different way to communicate with travelers and our wider audience.”

As long as the podcasts remain relevant, GSP plans to continue producing them. “We try to always be on the leading edge of the industry,” says Carr. “We want to be a leader in both the airport sector and the travel industry. We’re always trying to do something unique, something innovative and something different from other airports to set ourselves apart.”


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