Idaho Falls, Pocatello airports to encourage people to fly local

By Kendra Evensen kevensen@journalnet.com | Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 10:30 pm Airports in both Idaho Falls and Pocatello are planning to launch marketing campaigns in the future to encourage people to fly local. Within the next six months to a year, the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, which is in the process of rebranding, will start using a different logo, more social media, and a new user­ friendly website that’s separate from the city’s website, said Craig Davis, airport director.

“We’re shifting from just advertising and marketing the airlines to marketing the airport,” he said, adding that it has been more than 25 years since the airport has done any rebranding. The airport, which has been working with Sixel Consulting Group for several years to attract new air services, is now using the firm to assist with marketing and community outreach as well, Davis said. They’ve held stakeholder meetings and taken surveys to help in that process. Although increasing community awareness and support is only one piece of the pie when it comes to running a successful airport, Davis said it is still an important part of continuing and bringing new services to the area.

The Pocatello Regional Airport is also looking for ways to get more people to use its services rather than heading to larger airports, like the one in Salt Lake City. “We are working on the very preliminary stages of a new marketing campaign to see what we can do,” said Kristy Heinz, administrative assistant for the airport, adding that they will discuss ways to increase public outreach in the future. “(We want the) community to know we are here and can help them with their travel needs.” Both airports say there are several advantages to flying local.

First, people don’t have to drive all the way to Salt Lake City to board a plane, so depending on where they’re coming from, they can reach the airport in a matter of minutes rather than hours. “We’re a couple of miles from the downtown area, (so there is) easy access,” Davis said. When people are comparing rates, they don’t always consider the convenience of using a local airport or factor in the price of fuel, wear and tear on their vehicles and parking fees — there aren’t any at the Pocatello airport — if they travel somewhere else, Heinz said. Taking all of those things into consideration, it may be worth it for people to pay just a bit more for their ticket, she said.

The Idaho Falls airport’s new website will actually include a cost calculator to help people determine how much it will cost them to fly out of town compared to driving to and flying out of another airport, Davis said.

Aside from the fact that the local airports are closer, they also offer shorter check­in lines than larger airports, and it doesn’t take as long to get through security, Heinz said, adding that the Pocatello airport prides itself on being “fast, friendly and convenient.” Davis said the Idaho Falls airport is also proud of its safe and secure environment. For the past five years, it has scored 100 percent on Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration inspections. “It’s a head to toe inspection of everything that we do there (as far as) safety and security,” he said. Both airports are always striving to improve their services and facilities. Heinz said the Pocatello airport is in the process of installing a new boarding bridge so that passengers will be able to get on a plane without having to go outdoors in the future. In addition, the airport offers free coffee and wireless Internet in the terminal so passengers can relax or get some work done while waiting for their flight, she said. The Idaho Falls airport also offers places for passengers to access the Internet and recharge their devices, Davis said.

In her State of the City Address last month, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said the airport recently completed a 5,000­square­foot terminal expansion and is working on an additional expansion of the south quadrant along the runway. Davis said they also want to eventually offer a full restaurant menu rather than just a snack bar. With the improvements taking place, the services that are available and the convenience of the location of local airports, officials at both facilities hope people will at least consider flying local in the future. Although it can cost more to fly out of the local airports, Heinz encourages people to check the price of available flights every time they take a trip because costs fluctuate on a regular basis and they can find good deals. “People are surprised they can get competitive fares out of the local airport,” she said.

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