Division: B
Category: 9 – Specialty Item
Entry Title: Lee County Port Authority Air Service Appreciation Gift

Research/Situation Analysis: The Lee County Port Authoty (LCPA) operates Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers, Fla. and serves 7.4 million passengers annually with more than 20 air carriers. To welcome the millions of passengers and visitors to RSW and promote the distinct character of the region we serve - 60 large, stunning Alan S. Maltz (official fine art photographer for the state of Florida) images are featured in public areas of the airport terminal as a permanent collection. The Port Authority’s role is to provide a world-class infrastructure for the traveling public, which would not be possible without the airlines that serve our market. Airlines cannot operate without the facilities that airports provide and an airport would not exist without air service. Therefore, airports and airlines are partners in the truest sense of the word. In an industry of intense competition, especially in a difficult economic climate, it is not only smart but a critical component of our strategic plan to support the initiatives of the aviation market development department. We continually seek innovative ways to keep in touch and remain “top of mind” with our airline partners, on a local and corporate level. Airlines serve anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of cities worldwide and receive many gifts and branded items throughout the year from the airports they serve. There are only so many pens, cups, shirts and portfolios that someone can use or keep. The PR team needed to come up with a unique appreciation gift that would “stand out from the crowd,” thank the airlines that serve our market and remind them of Southwest Florida and its tropical landscape, beautiful beaches and unique ecosystem that is world-renowned.
Target Audience: CEOs and route planning executives of the airlines that serve RSW

Objectives: 1) To select a unique gift and send to airline partners in December for the 2009 holidays. 2) To garner feedback from at least 20 percent of the gift recipients. 3) To keep the cost of the gift under $65 per unit.   

Implementation: The PR team found out that Alan Maltz was going to produce a large format, high-end publication of his photography solely depicting Southwest Florida – many of which are featured in the airport. The coffee table book entitled, Visions of Beauty – Fort Myers, Sanibel & Beyond, consisted of 128 glossy, heavyweight pages filled with vibrant, full-color images capturing the history and charm of old Fort Myers and the hidden treasures of the barrier islands, as well as regional destinations including Bonita Springs, Boca Grande and Cayo Costa. In a cooperative effort, as well as a way to save money, the airport reached out to the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and asked them to partner on this project. As a special value-added commission, Maltz permitted us to select one of his photos taken of Sanibel Beach and add a personalized introductory page with a message of welcome from the airport and VCB. The book is branded to the region with the subtle use of logos and messaging so that Visions of Beauty could remain on an airline executive’s desk or coffee table to be enjoyed for the beauty of the photographs – all a reminder of what Southwest Florida represents. LCPA sent 29 books to key signatory airline and route planning executives in time for the holidays with a special note of appreciation from the Port Authority’s executive director and aviation market development director. The remaining books were saved and will be used for future airline marketing opportunities to promote the region and our airport.

Evaluation: 1) We sent our appreciation gift out in time for the holidays to our key airline partners. We chose the Alan Maltz coffee table book reflecting the region’s diversity and charm – with a custom insert page – as our gift. This signature book was a high quality specialty item branded to the airport and region that no other commercial airport could replicate because it was specific to RSW and Southwest Florida. 2) Both the executive director and aviation marketing director received telephone calls and comments from airline executives who were impressed by the quality and originality of the gift. In fact, 17 percent of the recipients took the time to write a personal note of appreciation and an additional 10 percent called about their gift – for a total response rate of 27 percent. Our executive director was very pleased to get positive feedback about the book from some of the largest carriers that serve RSW, such as AirTran, Southwest, Spirit and Air Berlin. 3) Partnering with the VCB enabled us to negotiate a volume discount and the final cost ended up 20 percent less than our planned objective, or only $52 per unit. In addition, by featuring both logos on the custom insert page, we had the added benefit of illustrating the relationship between the airport and the visitor bureau, the key tourism development organization of the region.  

Total cash expenses for the project were $2,610 (50 books at $48.50, plus $175 for shipping and $10 for supplies). The rest of the project was completed by PR staff in-house for a blended rate of $300 (approximately 10 hours) while completing other work assignments.