The new air service for Branson Airport is…..!

The Branson Airport (BA) has the potential to provide the Branson area with a level of air service that the area has never seen before. The whole area is atwitter with the expectation of the start of commercial air transportation, via one or more low cost nationally networked carriers in May of 2009.
BA has announced they have signed one such carrier, but its identity, except for the anointed few is a “secret.” The Ole Seagull isn’t one of the anointed few but we’re he a guessing bird he would say “The new air service for Branson Airport is ‘going to need marketing.’”
Now don’t get agitated because the Ole Seagull didn’t specifically give the name of the carrier. Although he did give a pretty good clue as to who he believes that carrier will be, just in case he’s right, he just doesn’t want to spoil the surprise. Instead it will be the Christmas gift for the community that has everything, the name of the initial carrier that will be providing Branson Airport’s first commercial air transportation service starting in May of 2009.
A recent news article on Branson Airport, published in this paper, reported that Jeff Bourk, Executive Director, Branson Airport, LLC, said that their passenger projections are based on a survey they did. According to Bourk the survey established that if there was low cost air service available to Branson from a given area, more people would chose to come to Branson from that area than would otherwise come. He said, “That’s basically the pitch, it’s that simple” and continued on by saying BA is looking for air carriers that are low cost and have a national network.
In a recent appearance before the Taney County Commission meeting Bourk presented projections of 250,000 inbound visitors for 2010, 450,000 by 2015 and 650,000 by 2020 and said they were conservative estimates. Here’s the rub, it’s not simply a case of build it and they will come. Without adequate marketing of Branson as a destination, the availability of a nationally networked and recognizable air carriers, and a low fares these projections are meaningless.
If a desire to come to Branson is not created then it makes no difference how they don’t come, horse and buggy, car, truck, ship or plane, the end result is the same. The good news is, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, that Branson has an excellent, flexible and evolving destination marketing plan in place his plan keeps Branson competitive with its destination city counterparts in the areas where the plan is able to be effectively implemented.
As most people realize however, all the hype and hoopla about the new airport aside, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the marketing of the availability of a nationally networked and recognizable air carrier or low cost air fares to Branson. As of this date the reasons are obvious. No one knows who the carrier is or just how low the fares will be and the airport appears to have neither the funds or marketing expertise to market the product that will hopefully entice passengers to travel to their airport, “Branson, Missouri.”
The reason Boark was giving the projections to the Taney County Commission at the meeting referred to above was to ask them to give the airport $400,000 in marketing assistance. In an Ole Seagull’s opinion any money given to directly to the airport for the marketing would be the same as pouring it down a deep hole in terms of duplication of effort, marketing efficiency, and expense.
That aside however, he truly believes that the airport chances of failing go up drastically without marketing dollars being allocated to market the that Branson has a full service commercial airport and low cost nationally connected air carriers providing convenient and low cost air transportation to Branson. He would respectfully suggest however that the best way to meet that need is to direct any additional marketing funds for the airport to the Branson Lakes Area CVB through the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) for integration into the existing destination marketing effort.
The obvious fact is that if commercial air transportation service starts into the Branson Airport and fails, and it more than likely will without adequate marketing, that it will make it extremely more challenging for Branson to get commercial air transportation services again in the future. It’s not a question of whether or not marketing is needed it’s simply a question of if it is done, how it is done and the consequences of what happens if it is not done.

About Gary Groman aka The Ole Seagull

Editor of The Branson Courier
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