By Brionna Simons
Last year, the Denver International Airport, or DIA as affectionately named by locals, made several headlines as it welcomed a record high of 60 million passengers. Other buzzworthy news included hosting a free holiday ice skating rink and being ranked #1 in the nation for best airport food. DIA, the country’s sixth busiest airport and largest airport by land size, has been a central hub for 22 years and growth is not slowing down. To upkeep with its 2020 vision, DIA recently installed a new 1,000-foot welcome sign and hosted a surprise goat yoga session for passengers. What all is happening at DIA and how should Colorado marketing professionals prepare for its growth?
What’s DIA’s goal?
Per flydenver.com, of of DIA’s objectives is be “America’s favorite connecting hub.” One way to establish this positive brand association is to demonstrate that “going to the airport can be unexpected, relaxing and fun,” said Heath Montgomery, Media Relations Director at DIA.
Implementation #1: Goat Yoga
One way that Montgomery implemented a fun experience for passengers was a pop-up private studio called the “DEN Zen Room” in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga. For passengers, the yoga class with adorable roaming goats was a delightful and interactive experience that made their experience at DIA unforgettable. (I wish I caught DIA’s Facebook teasers with the hashtag #DENZEN because I would have loved to attend!)
Implementation #2: Ice Skating Rink
Another approach that DIA used to bring joy to travelers was to enhance its free public ice skating rink. In its second year, the rink’s size was increased to 40-by-60 feet, operated for 44 days, and featured visits from local celebrities. Guests included the Denver Broncos, Colorado Avalanche, and the University of Denver’s figure skating team. DIA also hosted a charity hockey tournament benefiting a fallen Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy. Community partnerships like this are essential to a DIA’s public image for Colorado residents.
Implementation #1: New Signage
DIA also installed a 1,000-foot LED light display on Peña Boulevard. The $11.5 million-dollar signage project was designed to become an iconic ribbon of moving light along the main road to and from DIA. What’s interesting is that Panasonic was originally contracted to build and fund approximately 40% of the project, but that changed once both parties learned about the advertising limitations on federal highway systems.
Apparently, marketing on Peña Boulevard is limited to on-premise properties, which is basically the airport and outlets within. Since Panasonic pulled out, DIA is footing the cost and expects the payback period to last 10 years. DIA’s story with this new sign is an excellent demonstration of the importance of knowing the legal environment in the marketing mix.
What marketing agency is taking the lead?
This past June, DIA signed a $15 million-dollar, five-year contract with Karsh Hagan, an award-winning marketing agency based in Denver. Last month, I sat down with Karsh Hagan’s Creative Director Dave Cook who shared his creative marketing strategy with me: “Think from a PR perspective… How will the press write about it?”
Press releases are important to reinforce any organizations’ mission and to generate buzz about upcoming improvements. For the DEN Zen Room alone, DIA generated over 15 unique press articles including coverage from CBS, plus over 8,300 views on YouTube. Congratulations to DIA on the well-earned, earned media!
DIA’s 2018 Marketing Initiatives
In 2018, a DIA traveler can expect a $1.8 million-dollar renovation in the Jeppesen Terminal. Additionally, there will be a $700 million-dollar expansion of Concourses A and B. Changes will include 16 added gates, 17 new shops including Colorado-centric retailers, and a food hall that mimics the eclectic vendors in RiNo’s Denver Central Market.
Impact on Denver’s Marketers
Should marketing professionals factor in DIA’s growth into their marketing plans? Yes! We know that The World Trade Center Denver invested $200 million into a new complex specifically to attract the influx of airport travelers. The new campus is strategically located at the RTD’s 38th and Blake Station stop in RiNo. It aims to become “a giant welcome mat” for Denver’s visitors traveling 33 minutes on the A Line from the Airport station.