The sheer variety of food, drink, hospitality and entertainment on offer in the Networking Village in Vancouver was truly outstanding but how did two of 2010’s most distinctive stands – Gatwick and Manchester – make the most of their investment?
Have clear objectives
For Gatwick, this was the first time it had exhibited at a Routes event as a stand-alone London airport and its key objective was to communicate a new voice and personality developed under new ownership. To achieve this,
Gatwick had one of the largest Hosted Networking Stands in the Networking Village and used ‘gravity defying’ illusionists to create a buzz around the stand.
“Gatwick is doing things differently and our idea for illusionists and the streamliner was something we had never seen before. We knew the delegates would enjoy the entertainment,” says Gatwick’s media relations manager, Andrea Hopkins.
For Manchester, the stand was a joint proposition with the airport and its economic development agency, Marketing Manchester. Its main aim was to showcase the city and region, featuring messaging centred on business, sport and culture. “Manchester is famed for football and music, so we knew these would work for us. We also featured quotes about Manchester by famous Manchurians and well-known, credible international publications. These represented the sense of humour, pride and attitude of the city,” explains Nadine Callan, head of airline marketing at the airport.
To draw attention to the stand, Manchester had free-style footballers doing tricks during a lunch break, while at other times of the day guests were invited to choose their favourite song by a Manchester band or musician, which was then played on the stand.
Hosted Networking Stands are effective in showcasing regions and communicating messages, but they have the added – and arguably more important – benefit of allowing stand-holders and stakeholders to have a dedicated meeting space on the stand itself – something that both Gatwick and Manchester recommend.
“One of the biggest benefits of this is not having short time constraints on meetings,” says Gatwick’s Hopkins. “Plus, having our own meeting area on the stand allowed us to network with airlines and key aviation industry delegates and discuss how we are developing the airport to achieve growth and create a better environment for passengers.”
Manchester, meanwhile, appreciated the flexibility that the meeting space offered. “It allowed us to have a specific meeting place for ad hoc or spur of the moment appointments,” says Callan. “We had a very flexible approach to the space, meaning that we could remove it when required, allowing us to free up space when the meeting area wasn’t in use.”
One element that all stand holders really took seriously in Vancouver was food and drink, from sushi on the Swedish Cities/Swedavia stand, to dates and Arabic coffee with Abu Dhabi.
Gatwick chose to highlight its new identity by serving a ‘teal blue’ Gatwick martini during ‘happy hour’, while Manchester offered healthy smoothies and snacks in line with its sporting theme. “This allowed people to get some well needed vitamins during the constant meetings and late nights,” explains Callan.
But did it work?
Airline marketing is a marathon rather than a sprint but both Gatwick and Manchester believe that their efforts in Vancouver were fruitful. “The feedback we have received from the airline community during and since the event has been extremely positive – it was a huge success,” remarked Hopkins. Callan agrees, saying: “We were very pleased with the results and the hard work continues now we are back from Vancouver.”
This article is featured in Routes News 2010 Issue 6