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Kevin Higgins
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GIAA nabs more international awards

The Gander International Airport Authority (GIAA) is getting the word out about Gander International Airport.

THE BEST – GIAA CEO and president Reg Wright, centre, accepts the first-place award in the brochure category Airports Council International-North America Marketing and Communication Awards gala in Edmonton, Alta., last month, from (left) Myrna White, chair of the Airports Council International North America Marketing and Communications Committee, and Johanne Gallant, vice-chairperson of the ACI-NA marketing committee. This was one of three awards won by GIAA at the event.

For the second consecutive year, GIAA was honoured with three awards at the Airports Council International-North America Marketing and Communication Awards gala in Edmonton, Alta., last month.

Last year, GIAA came home with a first, second and third place award from the international event — the first time the local airport authority had entered the competition.

This year GIAA garnered two first-place honours and a third-place award for its marketing efforts during the past year.

At this year’s competition, GIAA was recognized for the best in the brochure/map category for its Gas and Go at Gander, as well as in the radio advertising competition for its radio ad highlighting the therapeutic effects of a winter vacation. Third place came in the Creative Innovation in Promtional Items for its t-shirt campaign.

Reg Wright, GIAA’s CEO and president, said it was stellar recognition for GIAA’s marketing effort, especially considering the competition it was up against.

“We had the most first-place awards of any airport in Canada. Some of these airports, both in Canada and the United States, have amazing (marketing) teams and resources,” said Wright. “We don’t have enormous resources or buying power, so we really focus on how we can differentiate ourselves from the rest.

“You need to have a message that’s unique and can reach your potential customer.”

In the case of GIAA, Wright said the entries that garnered success at the awards gala actually targeted different potential customers, with the Gas and Go at Gander, as well as the t-shirt campaign, focusing on the corporate customer, and the radio advertisement for the travelling consumer.

“The marketing (of the airport) such as the radio ads are easy for people to see, hear and know about, but we also have to market ourselves to the corporate side of the aviation industry,” said Wright. “People such as the pilots and dispatchers of the aviation industry…people who report back to their companies and bosses and say, ‘Hey, Gander is a good spot to fly in and out of, let’s put it on our route’.”

He said such was the case with the brochure, or as he refers to it more as a ‘mapchure.’

This marketing tool was a 14x8-inch six-fold brochure providing relevant flight planning information, combined with light selling of the airport and a functional tool — in this case, an oceanic navigational chart.

Wright said these charts weren’t meant to used for flight planning or navigation, but used as a reference point, instructional tool or keepsake.

GIAA originally did a print run of 1,000 through Transcontinental Printing, but since has had to do two additional print runs for a total production of 4,500. The brochure was made available at the airport’s crew lounge, as well as at specific conferences targeting pilots.

As for it radio ad, Wright said it was aimed at getting customers to escape the ‘horrific’ winter Newfoundland and Labrador experienced in 2013-’14 by flying to warmer, sunnier locations through Gander International Airport.

“These ads were a parody of pharmaceutical advertisements where everyone is super depressed and it replaced some pharmaceutical treatment with Cuban vacation. Sort of, ‘Ask your travel agent if a Cuban vacation is right for you’,” he said.

The t-shirt campaign was also aimed at the corporate. The t-shirts, each bearing a slogan, were handed out at trade shows and conferences with the focus group being pilots and flight dispatchers.

“I’ve always said if your marketing campaign can make someone smile, you’ve already won,” said Wright. “That’s what we try to do with the resources and budget we have. Everyone is handing out pins and key chains, which blend in with every other one or get tossed to the side and forgotten about. We want to stand out, so we try different things.”

Wright said it’s good to be recognized for those efforts, but the awards aren’t the reason they do these things.

“It’s about marketing the airport and increasing our business…that’s the main purpose,” he said. “However, it is nice to win the awards, as it gives us an indication we are being seen in the marketplaces we are targeting.”

khiggins@ganderbeacon.ca

Twitter: @beaconnl

Organizations: Gander International Airport

Geographic location: North America, Canada, Edmonton United States Newfoundland and Labrador

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