Experiential Travel Marketing Effort Targets Millennials
Millennials are known among travel professionals for reacting well to experiential marketing efforts — but how about for creating those experiences themselves? It’s happening — and at an airport known among travelers for providing one of the worst experiences around.
This generation aims to be part of the solution for the Philadelphia airport, and the problem is multi-layered — from city ownership of the travel spot to less such ownership of the airport employee interactions, because few of the staffers receive paychecks from Philadelphia. So finds the research detailed in “PHL Airport Enlisted Millennials to Help Make It Less Terrible,” an article by Mark Dent published on BillyPenn.com on Tuesday.
The experiential and generational marketing effort is especially notable for taking place in Philadelphia — a city that’s trying to retain Millennial professionals and is known for providing an overall poor travel experience, as reported by visitors to Travel + Leisure magazine.
In 2015, Philly came in No. 3 in the magazine’s “The 15 Unfriendliest Cities in America,” up from No. 11 in 2012’s “America’s Rudest Cities.” (Conversely in 2016, Travel + Leisure listed Philadelphia as No. 36 in the world out of the “50 Best Places to Travel in 2017.” The magazine noted the city performed well during recent high-profile events, such as the Pope Francis visit and the Democratic National Convention.)
Dent says the PHL research, though, shows areas for improvement, especially on social media and perceptions of friendliness.
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Millennials helped work on the project by the Committee of Seventy, an independent organization aimed at advocating for better government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Dent reports that this committee assigned 17 delegates to the airport problem and, among other findings, the research found and recommended:
Uniting the disparate groups of airport employees was identified as one of the project’s priorities.
Per [task force member Lauren] Hughes, one specific recommendation was to formulate a clear, engaging mission statement for staff, and another was to encourage them to wear badges showcasing the neighborhood in Philly or the suburb where they live. The latter would also play into making the airport feel more authentically Philly.
“We talked about the Philadelphia attitude,” Hughes said. “It can be loud, but it’s fun and engaging. Part of my feedback was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to give this attitude and have it be somehow institutionalized?’”
Said [task force member Brad] Baer: “I was actually really impressed that the group didn’t want to make it literally Philly like cheesesteaks, Rocky and Ben Franklin. There’s more of an emphasis like on BYO restaurants and technology and entrepreneurship. Not bash them over the head with Philadelphia but just creating a nice, high-end experience.”
Another idea the group came up with, Baer said, was to redesign the area just after security where passengers can meet with family and friends. The panel suggested adding a backdrop for photos because so many people take pictures there.
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