Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marketing Effort? . . .

or Marketing Study?

Per the OD: Our view: Airport needs more aggressive marketing effort

According to the editorial, Fixed Base Operations at Griffiss "International"  Airport simply have not produced the profits anticipated (hoped-for) by Oneida County. But the OD has the answer:
What’s really needed is more aggressive marketing of the airport. That needs to be a combined effort, with the county, Mohawk Valley EDGE and the airport commissioner working in partnership with Million Air — Freeman Holdings’ franchise name — to secure more business. Their success would benefit everyone.
The unstated assumption, of course, is that there is a market for what Griffiss has to offer. . . This seems to be a reoccurring error of our "build it and they will come" county leaders who repeatedly show their ignorance of business basics by spending lots of money on facilities without knowing precisely what needs are currently unserved or underserved locally, how local people are coping with their needs, and who this region's competition might be. This blog talked about the County's lack of basic business information back in 2008 for example.

While it is possible that there is a perfect niche for Griffiss "International" Airport to fill, it is not clear what that niche might be (though there were signs of needs in the air cargo department about 10 years ago).  What is needed is a Marketing STUDY to determine what niches GIA might fill.

Diving into an "aggressive marketing effort"  without knowing the market may result in Oneida County spending a ton of money and effort on the equivalent of marketing snow to Eskimos.


RPP said...

I'm not sure that a marketing study is the proper vehicle for evaluation. Most marketing studies are based on assumptions given by the client, in this case the county,or are designed to generate more studies and involvements of consultants. What is needed is a cost/benefit analysis of the basic need of the airport. The question of whether or not the airport should be maintained relative to taxpayer cost should be asked and answered by an independent group or person. That type of inquiry is different than a marketing study which assumes a market. The OD makes the same assumption the county government does that the airport is necessary in the first instance. My quess is that the opposite is true.

Greens and Beans said...

I agree.
We have an airport, but we have no airline. We have an airport, but we serve no passengers.

We have a boat anchor, but we have no boat. Do we really need to own and maintain a boat anchor?

Oh . . . Did I mention that we have an airport?

RPP said...

I sent an email to Liz Cooper at the OD suggesting that the paper enlighten its readers by reporting who actually uses the airport for what. It is a shame that the taxpayer who is paying millions a year to support the facicilty has no idea of what it really is. If a basic level of information was public a true discussion and evaluation by those paying the freight may insue.

The Preservationist said...

the original OC Airport in Oriskany failed because the market dried up. Larger venues (read "Syracuse" and "Albany") offer far greater variety of flights and airlines, and there in no way for Utica-Rome to compete with those markets, especially since both are well within driving distance of U-R. and even if we get an airline, it won't stay because the profit margins (for them) won't exist. A "nobel cause", but for naught. Let's concentrate on those things that really matter.

Anonymous said...

One thing that should really matter is that it costs $8 million to keep our " international airport."

Vernon Gray said...

The marketing agreement between the County and EDGE, Section 5.1.17, states:

Specifically, EDGE will: (i) work cooperatively with Oneida County, the County's Aviation Department, and on the development and funding of a marketing program to attract new and expanded aviation related uses at Griffiss International Airport (i.e., EDGE, with the concurrence of GLDC, will earmark funds from the GLDC marketing budget contingent on an appropriate funding match from Oneida County for marketing of the Griffiss International Airport for aviation economic development opportunities);

EDGE has not initiated any actions for the development and funding of a marketing program. In fact, in 2011 the Department of Aviation proposed hiring a professional airport marketing consultant to conduct a marketing program with the annual cost of $75,000 to be co-shared 50/50; $37,500 each. The proposal and funding request was declined by the GLDC. In 2011, EDGE was paid $349,674 by the County, yet it has no contractual obligation to provide any funding or pay any costs for marketing, relying instead upon funding from the GLDC.

Protecting the interests of the 394 Hangar Road Corporation is readily evident in the inter-relationship between the 394HRC and EDGE, and in the marketing agreement between the County and EDGE. Is it realistic or just foolish to believe that EDGE will freely, fairly and in good faith market the airport to any prospective commercial aeronautical enterprises that would directly compete against 394HRC's tenant?

Anonymous said...

We can assume from your post that the funding did not occur, therefore no study was done, but wasn't this part of your job? Why couldn't you put this marketing plan together and then propose it to the County Legislature through the Airport Committee?

Since there seems to be a contractual requirement for EDGE to develop and fund a Marketing program; does this mean that the new Commissioner of Aviation will work under EDGE? Similar to the Executive Director of the Griffiss Institute?

Also, would like to know more about 394 Hangar Road Corporation.

Your thoughts please?

Vernon Gray said...

The proposal to hire a professional aviation marketing consultant included a draft marketing plan, which was presented to the county executive. The GLDC and EDGE declined to co-share in the cost, which did not surprise me considering their conflict-of-interest. Only the county executive can present proposals to the Board and he chose not to do so.

As stated in the Oneida County Charter, the Commissioner of Aviation's duties include "working in conjunction with all relevant federal, state and local economic development corporations and agencies to promote, market and develop the resources of the County Airport.” At the beginning of my employment I was instructed by Chief-of-Staff Al Candido to forward all economic development inquiries to EDGE for their attention and action. Per Candido, lending assistance to EDGE was to be the sum total of my involvement in the airport’s economic development. Gradually, through the completion of a State-sponsored Airport Business Plan and my initiation of a Marketing Plan, I slipped out of being subservient to EDGE. You can bet that the next commissioner will not be allowed to do so!

With regard to the 394 Hangar Road Corporation, a subsidiary of EDGE, I suggest that you Google it as a beginning point of learning more.

Strikeslip said...

Mr. Gray -- Please send me your e-mail address through my profile page. I need to discuss something with you. Thanks