Free Airport Wifi is a Holiday Gift for Marketers

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Just in time for the holidays, New York City has made free WiFi available in all major airports. It’s a gift for everyone, but mostly for marketers in retail and beyond who are trying to reach consumers during the holiday season. With airports packed with holiday travelers looking for information on everything from where to eat to how to get to their hotel, marketers will have a massive audience ready to accept their helpful messages. Here’s how to make the most of this exciting new opportunity.

When is the best time to reach in-transit travelers around the holidays?

The weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas are likely to be busy 24/7 at every airport, but for marketers looking to reach the biggest audiences, here’s an inside scoop. Travel site SmarterTravel.com states that the busiest travel times for the holidays are:

  • Tuesday, November 20
  • Wednesday, November 21
  • Sunday, November 25
  • Friday, December 21
  • Saturday, December 22
  • Wednesday, December 26

While these dates are specific to 2018, their level of busy-ness seems to be consistent year after year given their proximity to the holidays. December 29 and January 2 also appear to be popular days to travel for those who want to spend New Year’s out of town. Savvier travelers will book morning flights, between 6:00AM and noon, as these tend to experience the fewest delays and disruptions. That said, flyers experiencing delays will certainly have more time on their hands and be looking to their phones for distraction – although they may not be in the best mood to interact with your ads, unless you’re offering something that can help them reduce their stress or save them a lot of time once they finally land.

What are the most effective messages or offers to engage these travelers?

Holiday travelers are probably excited about seeing friends and family this time of year, but they’re also tired and frazzled. What can you do for them right now? How can you make their trip more convenient and easier? What can you offer that will save them time and money when they get home?

QSR marketers, who are already quite savvy with their mobile marketing strategies, may want to offer these weary consumers special deals on hot meals or seasonal beverages. (Who wouldn’t want a cocoa after flying from New York to Chicago, for example?) Transportation services would also be wise to catch travelers as they land, letting them know that a safe, reliable ride to their hotel or other destination can be easily booked online. Similarly, hotels and OBS sites have an opportunity to capture travelers who urgently need a place to stay. (Discounted rates and packages could go a long way for hotels looking to beat the competition and fill up those last few rooms!)

For retailers, consider that traveling consumers may not be familiar with stores in your locale. Since they may enjoy shopping as part of their vacation – and may need some last-minute gifts – consider introducing them to whatever it is that is wonderful, unique and iconic about your store in its home city. Visitors to New York can be easily drawn to Macy’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue or Tiffany – these are local landmarks. What makes your store a “must-shop” for out-of-towners? If it’s not an experience, perhaps it’s the incredible holiday sale you’re having. Whatever it is – make sure visitors to your city know about it! They’re sure to be on their mobiles looking for directions and things to do, so put yourself in their path.

What are the best location strategies to leverage?

Of course, cross channel is the best approach to reaching and engaging holiday shoppers. While you might think most consumers are set in their approach to holiday shopping this year, they can actually be swayed. Mobile ads can be incredibly effective at driving footfall – Blis client Tropical Smoothie Café saw a 61 percent lift in foot traffic when its ads were shown to repeat customers, and the ad positively impacted new customers, as well.
The strategies used by Tropical Smoothie Café can be applied to retailers as well. Catch travelers while they’re shopping in nearby stores and invite them into your lobby. If it’s close to the holidays, a single-item discount is sure to get them through the doors! Or, if you’re a major national retailer, look for your regular customers while they’re in other cities, and bring them in with offers you know they’ll love. Even away from home, time-pressed holiday shoppers will appreciate a familiar shopping experience.

Mobile location data can give marketers a huge advantage as the holidays draw near. With more major airports now offering free WiFi, we now have even more data by which to identify key audiences. And, for my colleagues in the New York metro area, we have a new reason to be thankful for the Port Authority this season.
Looking for more insights on holiday shopping as the peak season approaches? Download our latest white paper!

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