Website Platform Helps Airports Attract More Customers

Website Platform Helps Airports Attract More Customers
Ken Wysocky
Published in: 

Growth can be elusive for any airport, especially small ones that suffer “leakage”—the loss of customers to larger nearby airports.

Appleton International Airport (ATW) in east-central Wisconsin and Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) in South Carolina have a new tool to help plug their revenue-killing leaks: FlyMyAirport from Airport One LLC.

The digital platform, which is embedded on each airport’s website, makes it easy for travelers to see at a glance what flights originate at their local airport. It also allows them to book flights by clicking on the provided link.

“FlyMyAirport acts like a 24/7 customer service agent,” says Abe Weber, airport director at ATW. “Consumers just choose their search criteria, and it provides the best options for flying through our airport versus another. It basically helps decrease competition from other airports.”


Project: Online Booking Support

Digital Platform: FlyMyAirport

Vendor: Airport One LLC

Cost: $2,500 set-up fee; $2,000/month
subscription fee

Format: Integrates with existing airport websites; platform hosted/maintained by Airport One; flight information continually updated by third-party online travel agency (Kayak)

Key Benefits: Helps promote use of local airports
& reduce “leakage” to larger nearby airports; dashboard provides key online metrics/data for
insights into effectiveness of marketing campaigns

Users: About 20 U.S. airports

Sample Users

Location: Appleton Int’l Airport (in WI)

2023 Passenger Volume: Nearly 1 million

Platform Implemented: July 2023

Location: Columbia Metropolitan Airport (in SC)

2023 Passenger Volume: About 1.2 million

Platform Implemented: Nov. 2023

Last year, ATW served nearly 1 million passengers, but approximately 70% of consumers in its target catchment area drove to Milwaukee or Chicago for outbound flights.

“To get bigger, we have to capture that leakage by motivating people to fly from our airport,” Weber says. “And this is a tool made to combat that leakage.”

Furthermore, the website platform gives ATW insights into users’ travel searches and purchasing habits, which provides a better understanding of what consumers in Wisconsin really want, he adds. 

Kim Crafton, vice president of Marketing and Air Service Development at CAE, is also enthused about the online aid.

“When we first heard about it, I thought it was a really clever and unique feature that we could use to not only drive traffic to our website, but encourage our local community to fly locally,” she says. “Our constant message is to book local and fly local.

“FlyMyAirport provides a way to show consumers that we can get them where they need to go, starting right here at CAE,” Crafton continues. “It fits into our layered approach to marketing—one of many things we do to ensure that our community travels through this airport.”

Plugging the Leaks

Steve Romme, partner and co-founder of Airport One, explains that FlyMyAirport was developed after years working with ATW as a marketing consultant, trying to boost passenger traffic.

But a common frustration kept emerging. When ATW would run ads on social media encouraging travelers to fly out of Appleton, links to third-party online booking agents would direct travelers to cheaper and/or nonstop flights out of airports in Milwaukee or Chicago—without information about the additional travel time or transportation costs associated with using those larger, farther-away airports.

“People essentially were being directed to fly out of another city,” Romme explains. “So we’ve been on a mission to get more people to fly local. When airports are strong, communities are strong, too.”

FlyMyAirport offers what he calls a search-to-book solution. Consumers who visit the website of airports using it will see the platform prominently displayed on the airport’s home page. After they enter a destination and select departure and return dates, they are directed to, a “meta” search engine that displays only flights originating from that airport. When consumers select a flight option, they are connected directly to the associated airline. 

“They book directly from an airline website—no middleman involved,” Romme emphasizes. “That’s important because if something goes wrong, like a flight cancellation, the airline will help them. The airport isn’t part of the transaction, so it doesn’t get those calls from customers.”

Airports pay $2,000 per month to use FlyMyAirport, plus a one-time set-up fee of $2,500. Under Airport One’s satisfaction guarantee, airports can cancel the service at any time.

Romme notes that officials at large airports also are expressing interest in FlyMyAirport to help develop direct relationships with consumers.

“The core of FlyMyAirport’s appeal lies in its ability to act like a restaurant menu, allowing airports of all sizes to communicate the best offerings that align with their consumers’ very specific needs,” he says. “This isn’t just about leakage prevention. It’s about elevating the overall customer service and experience and making it easier for consumers to find the best flight options available from their airport.”

Dashboard Data

Airport One provides clients with an online dashboard that details several critical website metrics, including:

  • daily visits,
  • number of unique visitors,
  • number of searches by destination,
  • which flights/destinations travelers prefer and which they don’t,
  • volume of “free” visits unsupported by advertising and
  • the total number of tickets purchased.

The metrics provide airports with valuable information that can help them spend marketing dollars more efficiently, says Romme.

“The data gives them an indication of what consumers think of their current air service, which can help them refine their marketing strategies because they can see what consumers are buying,” he elaborates. “For example, airports might advertise flights to Las Vegas, but they typically don’t know if customers actually looked for those flights, much less bought them. But now they know what customers clicked on, searched and bought.

“Also, before FlyMyAirport, airports didn’t know their customers’ names because they booked flights elsewhere,” Romme continues. “And if you never know your customers, you can’t build relationships with them or understand how to better service them. Now, airports get to know their customers and their customers get to know them.”

Another use for the dashboard data is market analysis for air service development.

Given the information it gathers and customer connections it fosters, Romme considers the website platform “unlike anything else ever developed for airports.”

More Efficient Ad Buys

Weber agrees with that assessment. Before ATW started using FlyMyAirport in July 2023, it would run ads and hope for consumers to click the included link to book flights out of Appleton.

“Now we know if they’re doing that,” he says. “If we spend, say, $100 on advertising, we can see an actual return on investment—how many people actually booked flights as a result of that campaign.

“This allows us to adjust our advertising dollars for peak efficiency,” Weber adds. “It allows us to peel back another layer on our marketing strategy and get a little more insight into whether campaigns were successful, which helps us ensure every dollar we spend provides a return on investment. It’s been a revelation.”

The website platform also has helped ATW reduce its dependence on paid online advertising, because it gives consumers a reason to organically visit the airport’s website to search for flights—without intrusions from online third-party competitors.

Knowledge is Power

At CAE, data collected through FlyMyAirport helps marketing officials see which destinations garner the most traffic, which in turn helps them adjust online buys to increase the visibility of those destinations, Crafton says.

“Before, all of our paid social media posts directed passengers to airline websites,” she explains. “Now that traffic stays on our website. And once we can capture more eyes on our website, we can also tell them about other resources available here, like pre-booking parking spaces.”

Another dashboard feature indicates which websites travelers come from when they visit CAE’s site. This provides more insights into which paid advertisements are most effective.

“We can see, for instance, if a consumer came to our website from an ad we ran on a television station’s website,” Crafton explains. “Knowing this information allows us to adjust our media buys accordingly.”

Crafton also points out that when more travelers fly out of CAE, there’s a positive domino effect on parking revenue, concessions sales, ride-sharing services and so forth. “When more passengers chose to fly locally, the local community benefits,” she says.

Last year, CAE served more than 1.2 million passengers.

Integration Process

More than 20 U.S. airports currently use the FlyMyAirport platform, which Airport One hosts and maintains. In some cases, the platform can go live at a new airport within one week.

“We already have a templated system created for every airport in the world, which makes integration fast,” Romme says. “We do an audit of each airport’s website and then suggest where to integrate the platform.”

Comprehensive route maps for each airport are a key feature. This information often surprises travelers who assume their small, local airport doesn’t fly to very many destinations, Romme comments. 

 Airports using the platform don’t need to update flight times, destinations and fares because it uses data from Kayak, which constantly updates such information.

“We do all the behind-the-scenes work,” Romme says. “And we use Kayak’s search engine, which is about as up-to-date as you can get.”

Crafton describes the integration process at CAE as seamless, with beta tests beginning just a few weeks after initial contact with Airport One. On a similar note, Weber says the process was straightforward and efficient at ATW.

Both describe the website platform as a valuable marketing tool. Although it’s too early to quantify exactly how much it may be increasing passenger volume, they say it absolutely has made marketing more efficient and boosted website visits.

“Every month, the number of people searching and clicking on a specific flight and purchasing a ticket continues to increase,” Weber reports. “We’ve also seen an equal number of ATW flight searches for every organic website visitor. That indicates people are using the tool and finding it very easy to navigate, and that it provides them with a fast and more convenient way to book travel out of Appleton.

“Before, we wouldn’t retain those customers, which would add to our leakage,” he continues. “I’m really excited about the tool moving forward.”

For Crafton, getting travelers to first check for flights out of CAE is one of the airport’s biggest hurdles. “All we’re asking is for people to check out CAE,” she says. “And FlyMyAirport is a quick resource that members of our community can use to do that. It’s a very tangible tool for backing up that check-CAE-first message."


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