Interactive Web Page Offers Planning Tools for Memphis Int’l Travelers

Interactive Web Page Offers Planning Tools for Memphis Int’l Travelers
Ken Wysocky
Published in: 

It’s sad, but true: Most route maps on airport websites are about as bland as in-flight meals.

But Memphis International Airport (MEM) recently spiced up its version by offering customers a veritable smorgasbord of intel about flight destinations and associated attractions—all on one sleek web page with lots of videos and clickable links.

The Where We Fly page, which went live in February, was created by FlightPath3D, the same software company that provides the inflight maps used by more than 70 airlines. The centerpiece of MEM’s new web page is an interactive map designed to deeply engage travelers by allowing them to filter destinations by flight duration, airline and travel interests such as history, culture and attractions.


Project: Interactive “Where We Fly” website page

Memphis (TN) Int’l Airport

2022 Volume: About 4.3 million passengers

Project Cost: About $23,000/year

Vendor: FlightPath3D

Content Development: 4-6 weeks

Integrating New Page: Few hours

Functionality: Travelers can filter destinations by flight duration, airline & interests; watch short videos about destinations & attractions; click on airline links to book flights; build travel itineraries that can be shared with others

Traffic: 12,000 people visited Where We Fly web page from Feb. 20-April 13; average viewer browsed for 9½ min.

Key Benefits: Boosts overall website traffic; generates valuable customer data for airport, tourism officials & airlines; helps promote destinations without favoring any particular airline; vendor updates page content

Take a Look:

Customers also can click on links for airline websites to book flights and follow other links to watch short videos about a host of destinations and attractions. They also can build travel itineraries and then share them and other information with friends and family.

Glen Thomas, director of Strategic Marketing and Communications at MEM, reports that capitalizing on this “geotainment trend” has significantly boosted traffic on the airport website.

“Where We Fly gives travelers a rich, centralized and concentrated source of information, all on one web page on our website,” Thomas explains. “It also brings an entertaining and interactive component to what was previously just a static informational page.”

Beyond providing passengers with a wealth of information, the new website feature allows MEM to collect a lot of data about what destinations and related material potential customers are searching for. “And it’s a creative way to promote our airport’s destinations without favoring one airline over another, which is important because all of them are our customers,” Thomas adds.

Duncan Jackson, president of FlightPath3D, notes that MEM is one of a handful of U.S. airports that have adopted the company’s marketing tool. In general, the pages include three primary components: a map, complex flight schedules (more than 4,000 flights per month for MEM) and inspirational content.

“About four years ago, an airline asked us to digitize one of their route maps, including adding flight schedules so it looked almost like a web page, where passengers could explore all the routes,” Jackson explains. “That led us to develop this service for Memphis, which like many airports, struggles to communicate everywhere they fly.

“Now all that information is at travelers’ fingertips,” he continues. “Memphis wanted to invest time and money and passion in the destinations they serve, to tell the stories behind those destinations. Now they have a mechanism to tell those stories.”

Meeting Customers Where They Are

The project concept was driven in part by what could be called the “Amazonification” of commerce. Thanks to the ecommerce giant, consumers have come to expect a convenient and easy-to-navigate—if not fun—shopping experience that’s extremely customer-centric. The airport’s new web page also had to meet customers’ ingrained expectations for the kind of rich, robust and interactive content they immerse themselves in on social media.

“The interactive component is critical because it’s what consumers have come to expect,” Jackson says. “Amazon has taught us that one-click purchasing and ease of shopping is the answer. Social media platforms have taught us how to find inspiration—#travel on Instagram has more than 681 million posts, for example.

“So our goal was to make airport destination pages more relevant,” he adds. “A laundry list of names of destinations is no longer relevant, nor is static content. People want to click on things: one click to see an airline’s flight schedule, another click to find information about destinations and so on.”

The Where We Fly page on MEM’s website already is popular with travelers. More than 12,000 people visited it from Feb. 20 through April 13, and the average visitor browsed there for 9½ minutes.

While Thomas doesn’t have hard data about how much time people typically spent on the airport’s previous static list of flights, he is confident it was far less than 9½ minutes.

“I have to think that the Where We Fly component has added time because people are digging in and learning about destinations,” he reasons. “To me, that 9½-minute figure is one of biggest measurements of success because in this day and age, it shows that people are engaged.”

Jackson says that the initial performance of MEM’s Where We Fly page bodes well because website “bounce rates” show that people quickly leave pages that don’t provide robust data in short order. 

It’s also worth noting that about 60% of visitors browse the web page on a cellphone, Thomas adds.

Valuable Intel           

Interestingly, Memphis is the most most-researched destination on the Where We Fly page, with 39% of visitors viewing attractions there, followed by Las Vegas (21%) and Orlando (nearly 20%).

“We’re sharing this information with Memphis Tourism officials because it generally tells us the things that people are most interested in seeing,” Thomas says. “It’s pretty fascinating to me that arriving passengers are using this so heavily. Clearly, they’re seeing value in this page.

“Perhaps there’s potential for Memphis Tourism to piggyback on that,” he continues. “We’re kind of just scratching the surface so far. It will be interesting to see what this data looks like a year from now.”

Information generated by the web page could also benefit air service development teams. While such data pales in comparison to actual passenger traffic figures, it could help airlines analyze how various routes and destinations perform, Thomas says.

While Thomas acknowledges that the internet is full of travel websites with information about destinations, he doesn’t feel MEM’s Where We Fly page is redundant because it provides specific customers with targeted information in an interactive format.

“What excites me about the airport experience is that airports are in the business of being economic engines,” adds Jackson. “And at the heart of that is the relationships with airlines and all the routes they service.

“It’s big news when an airport announces the addition of a new airline or a new route,” he continues. “So having this all-in-one tool for their travelers seems to be very much at the heart of airports’ business models and missions.”

Revenue Potential

Currently, the Where We Fly page of MEM’s website does not include paid advertising, and Thomas says that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Jackson, however, says that advertising an easy option to add.

“Airports absolutely could use the page to generate ad revenue,” he remarks. “We do observe that the time people spend viewing this product far exceeds the average time spent looking at an airport’s website, and I think that’s because visitors can access a lot of information quickly.

“With richer content, people are hanging out longer and exploring, so it makes sense to allow for advertising.”

MEM pays FlightPath3D $23,000 a year to maintain its Where We Fly page. Creating the initial content and incorporating it into the airport’s existing website took the company about four to six weeks.

Jackson notes that the cost for other airports would vary according to their flight volume and number of destinations served. Size-based pricing allows small airports to enjoy the same experience as larger airports, he explains.

“It’s like adding a widget to a website,” he adds. “It only takes a couple of hours to integrate our product.”

When the Where We Fly page went live on MEM’s website, it didn’t include public access for the first few days. Thomas notes that this is a common practice to work out any potential kinks. However, no tweaks were needed during the soft launch. 

External Administration

FlightPath3D updates flight, route and destination information as needed, and a MEM staffer manages the website page and works with the company to help ensure information is accurate.

“We do all of this as a turnkey operation,” Jackson points out. “The airports don’t have to do anything, which is another thing that makes it appealing.”

To minimize the need for constant updates, the page focuses on mainstay destinations such as Beale Street, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Graceland and Sun Studio in Memphis, rather than smaller attractions and restaurants. The strategy is to provide information Jackson describes as “less perishable” but still of primary interest to travelers.

“We don’t provide micro-content,” he elaborates. “People don’t use an airport website for things like that.”

Looking at the big picture, Thomas sees MEM’s Where We Fly web page as an emerging trend. “We’ve had several airports reach out and ask questions to see what we think about it so far,” he reports. “We’re all looking to do the same thing: promote destinations and figure out different ways to inform passengers and hopefully increase air traffic, which is our ultimate goal.”

Thomas also wants the MEM website to be a valuable resource for travelers. “To do that, you have to have a good hook,” he concludes. “I absolutely would expect more airports to utilize this service.”


2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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