Route Development Goes Digital

2 September 2009 (Last Updated September 2nd, 2009 18:30)

Online networking sites are fast becoming a way of life for businesses. Routesonline is a new online forum developed specifically for the route development industry. It provides airports with the ability to promote their market opportunities, and airlines with a central source of market data and route development information.

Route Development Goes Digital

In a survey conducted in the US, it was found that 30% of CEOs used online networking site Facebook and that 30% of businesses include social networking as part of their business strategy*. Facebook is gaining 374,000 users every day and LinkedIn has doubled its registered users in the past year. The rise of online social networking highlights the importance of digital media to develop business.

Routesonline is taking this philosophy and applying it to the aviation route development community, with an ambitious strategy to become the main aviation forum for the community. There are different ways in which route development professionals can use digital media to help deliver business development strategies, airports to attract airlines, and airlines to understand new market opportunities.

Research online

The most common reason cited by route development professionals for using the internet is to research target markets and gather data. A wealth of information and data is available, a lot of it free. For example, countries such as Australia, the US and many European countries through eurostat post city pair passenger traffic online.

Likewise, EUROCONTROL is a free source of Europe's aircraft movements, including cargo and general aviation. For more general country and market information, the World Bank, IMF and World Tourism Organisation are all good sources of information. Of the core data providers of schedules data, MIDT and BSP data are also moving online and many are providing data through portals such as Routesonline.

Industry aviation forums

"Airport corporate websites often ignore the B2B aspects of their business, focusing on providing a portal for the consumer."

For the time-sensitive airline planner, searching for individual airport websites can be onerous, so airlines will make use of central sources of airport / market information. Newswires such as Air Transport Intelligence have airport information, but Routesonline is the only website that pulls together all the different aspects of the route development process and provides it in one place online. It has news, networking, a data centre for key route analysis, airport and airline profiles, and Route Exchange, the online bidding tool for new routes.

Online networking

Online networking is an important aspect of the growth of digital media. Keeping up to date with people's movements in the aviation industry can be troublesome; maintaining a proactive customer relationship management system (CRM) can be even more difficult. Websites such as LinkedIn are being used by people as an online CRM, while Facebook is moving into the corporate market. Routesonline has a networking facility and is solely targeting the network development community.

Digital PR – Twitter

Digital media enables airports and airlines to deliver their messages instantly. The success of Twitter is because it can deliver messages immediately and clever corporations have realised this and used Twitter to communicate to their customers. Airport PR departments can also feed aviation digital media channels through RSS feeds.

Airport website

"Digital media will play an increasingly important part in the way that business is conducted."

Airport corporate websites often ignore the B2B aspects of their business, focusing on providing a portal for the consumer to source information on flights, parking and airport facilities. However, it is only natural to expect that any potential airline will visit a prospective airport website to get a feel for the market, the airport, what's happening in the city and region, and the people at the airport. Airports must develop their B2B content areas, including information about catchment, statistics, target markets, passenger profiles and contacts.

Digital media will play an increasingly important part in the way that business is conducted and the route development community will be no exception. The goal for the Routesonline website is to become the central forum for this digital media for the route development community.

*Deloitte 2009 Ethics and Workplace Survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, May 2009.