HOUSTON — The Houston Airport System was named Marketer of the Year in the transportation category when the American Marketing Association Houston Chapter recently revealed the 20 Houston-area companies, organizations and institutions winning Best in Category during the chapter's 2015-16 awards event.
The Marketer of the Year award is AMA Houston's annual program honoring exceptional marketing work. AMA Houston is the area's premier professional marketing organization and is the largest AMA Chapter in North America.
Initiatives designed to create a change in culture and a more customer-focused approach overall landed the Houston Airports the Best in Category recognition. Turning a spotlight on passenger needs and premium-level customer service, Houston Airports began with changing its vision statement, targeting establishing its airports as a “five-star global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated.” It changed one of its four strategic priorities from "Build a high-performance organization" (operationally-focused) to "Make our passengers happy" (customer-focused), and accomplished its 2016 marketing objectives by completing a marketing study to better understand passenger needs and wants, developing the Houston Airports’ brand family and standards, and enhancing the passenger’s digital experience by launching a new, mobile-responsive website termed by industry experts “the best airport website in the world” (www.fly2houston.com).
Houston Airports worked with UK-based auditors Skytrax on a week-long in-depth audit of both George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, and used the results to develop a multi-year plan to attain five stars at both facilities. It established first-time brand guidelines, standardizing to one logo treatment and including a brand hierarchy. In addition, Houston Airports took the digital experience head-on by providing the second-fastest airport Wi-Fi in the United States, unveiling a new website built around airport journeys of passengers (arrive, depart, connect, pick-up and drop-off). It also worked to improve the functionality and appearance of its in-airport interactive kiosks, including interactive maps.
The efforts produced a four-star rating for Hobby Airport by Skytrax — one of only three airports in the United States with a four-star rating — and the new website saw a better than 500 percent increase in new users, a nearly 500 percent increase in sessions, and a nearly 200 percent increase in page views. Mobile users skyrocketed from 49 percent to 72 percent of total users, and the new website’s social media-savvy approach elicited a more than 300 percent increase in traffic from social media referrals.
Judging was done by a national panel of 16 senior marketing professionals who reviewed and scored information submitted about the marketing programs of the category nominees to determine the 60 finalists and the 20 Best in Category winners.