Dunno about you, but if I were planning a vacation – especially with family in tow – I’d opt for the closest, least crowded airport and invest the few extra bucks per ticket in a more relaxed, hassle-free airport experience. That is, if I can get to my destination from there without changing planes too many times (even though I’ve noticed on occasion that it costs less to fly to my destination through Charlotte from PTI than to drive to Charlotte and depart from there. Go figure.)
The newspaper article focused on the price advantage of the two more distant airports vs. PTI, which serves the greater Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point area. It reported an average round trip fare of $10.66 less at Charlotte Douglas International Airport vs. PTI’s average fare, and a price difference between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and PTI of $53.02. Of course, individual ticket prices may swing higher or lower. The article failed to point out how small the price difference actually is between PTI and the other two airports, especially considering the comfort and convenience of flying from PTI vs. driving to Raleigh-Durham or Charlotte. Each alternative is about an hour-and-a-half away (vs. half that or less for PTI), and you’d best add at least another hour to that or risk missing your flight.
There is a way to lower an airport’s average fare, notes PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker in the article: attract more budget airlines.
“We’re always talking to every low-cost carrier out there to try and lure them to come to our airport,” he told Journal reporter Richard M. Barron, although “there’s only so much we can do.”
Maybe so. But what about talking up the experiential advantages of his airport more effectively? I would toss their current tagline (Fly Easy, Fly PTI) in favor of a variant with a bit more strategic muscle:
While you’re there, it’s a pleasant, uncrowded, unhurried place; parking is plentiful and close by and rental cars can be had right next to the terminal. There’s even an electric car charging station. And free WiFi.
Given that kind of experience, I’d expect to pay a little more.
However, an article in the Winston-Salem Journal recently reported that people are willing to travel to two other, much larger airports to save a few buck on fares:
“It’s EASIER to FLY PTI!”
It’s all too easy to sell your product or service on price – no matter what it is. However, there may be other, more strategic product benefits lurking on the sidelines that prospective customers will rise to even more than a lower price.
Let’s say you’re that airline passenger trying to decide whether to fly from the handy airport nearby or commute nearly two hours to a bigger one. What’s your choice? Convenience? Experience? Or price?
PTI marketing could ask:
Are you prepared to drive all the way to Charlotte to save $10.66 on your next airline ticket? With our easy-access, close-in parking, short lines and comfy terminal, it’s easier to fly PTI from anywhere in or around the Triad. Sure, you’ll spend an average of ten bucks more on your fare, but you’ll enjoy the experience a whole lot more … and get home faster, too.
I’d spend the ten bucks at PTI in a heartbeat if my other choice is to drive all the way to Raleigh, especially if I have to battle morning or evening drive time traffic on I-40 plus pay for gas each way.
Would I spend $100 more for my ticket? I’d sure think about it, although some would not. I’d also like to think that there’s enough people like me to make a difference for PTI. Because for us, an investment in avoiding the inevitability of parking hassles, long lines and general airport uncertainty is an easy choice, whether flying for business or pleasure.
TakeAway: Sometimes a higher price can be the better deal.
Content © by Brian E. Faulkner