King County: A Case Study Model for Strategic Marketing Planning for Airport Managers William Rankin University of Central Missouri Abstract Marketing planning in an airport as with other organizations is all about selecting appropriate target groups and formulating a marketing mix to achieve marketing objectives and financial targets. However, the factors which need to be considered in the dynamic and ever changing airport industry means that airport marketing planning is more than just applying general theory to practice. Therefore, this paper considers the unique case of airports and goes through the modern day planning process using the example of King County International Airport. It starts by considering the mission, value and vision statements to establish where the airport wants to be and looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to assess where the airport is now. This leads to an evaluation of the marketing strategies which should be adopted. Keywords: Airport Management, Airport Marketing, Strategic Planning, Marketing Management Airport Decision Making
King County: A Case, Page 1
Journal of Aviation Management and Education
Introduction Marketing planning case studies help airport managers prepare for real-world problems, situations and crises by providing an approximation of various marketing environments. Thus, through the examination of specific marketing cases, airport managers are given the opportunity to work issues through the trials, tribulations, experiences, and research findings of other marketing professionals. An obvious advantage to this mode of marketing planning is that it allows airport managers the exposure to settings and contexts that they might not otherwise experience. One way to study airport marketing issues is through the use of strategic marketing planning case studies. Strategic marketing planning is a process of developing a map or route an airport will follow which identifies what products are to be provided to which customers, where they will be provided, and at what price. Based on the vision and mission statements, an airport strategic marketing planning summarizes the basic operational tasks, goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics for the airport organization (Quilty, 1999; Pearce and Robinson, 2005). The mission need not be measurable, but it is something the airport employees can work toward regardless of intermediate achievements. Compared to mission, objectives imply a shorter, measurable time period with an accomplishment that can be measured in numerical terms. For example, an objective might be to achieve 90% hangar utilization within 2 years (Quilty, 1999). A strategy is a major course of action and implies a relatively longer time span than tactics. A strategy is what one is going to do and not how the airport is going to do it. A tactic, on the other hand is how the airport is going to achieve the strategy and the ultimate goal. It is a series of shorter action items that are part of the strategy. “Michael Porter, a management scholar, has identified three classes of competitive advantage strategies. The classes are known as low-cost producer, differentiation, and focus” (Quilty, 1999, p. 21). The low-cost producer attempts to hold prices low by minimizing costs. These efforts may take the form of efficient scale of production facilities, product design, distribution channels, raw materials procurement, etc. Part of this strategy can involve selling in volume so that low profits per unit may be offset. This strategy is observed in air carriers such as Southwest™ Airlines, but it is also practiced in general aviation fuel marketing, at airports attempting to buy large amounts of chemicals or sand for winter use, and in the air cargo industry (Quilty, 1999). Differentiation strategy involves creating a unique image of the organization’s product or service so that customers may be...