Think beyond Dallas… to Arkansas and Wichita Falls
The new non-stop direct service from Dallas to Barbados, slated to start on the 16th December this year offers tremendous growth potential for our tourism industry. Not only will it tempt the estimated 6.5 million people that live in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area, the fourth largest metropolitan population in the United States, but it offers some incredible connecting city opportunities.
As the DFW airport website reminds us, no major city in the Continental United States is more than four flying hours from Dallas, so an overall in-the-air traveling time of less than ten hours will make all these cities accessible to Barbados. California which boasts a population over 36 million people, will then be able to reach us within a comfortable twelve hours, without the need to transit Miami.
American Airlines Texas hub has over 220 incoming flights DAILY serving 120 cities, ranging from Abilene to Wichita Falls.Add all the other airlines and the airport handles 58 million passengers a year or over 152,000 every day.
Of course, it’s about a lot more than numbers.
Despite the current economic situation, the demographics determine that a substantial percentage of Americans still have the means to travel.
A private/public sector promotional road show visiting a number of the most attractive connecting cities has already taken place and we must now use the remaining short lead time to maximise this new route. The second tour takes in the main Pacific coast cities plus Las Vegas and starts 25th October.
I would expect the BTA public relations company has gone into hyper drive to exploit media coverage, and not just with the big name publications. An example might be the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette which may not sound as ‘sexy’ as the Dallas Morning News or Houston Chronicle, but it still attracts over 600,000 readers on an average Sunday.
And I would bet that it offers an equivalent conversion rate for those perusing travel features, when compared to better known newspapers. Over the next eleven weeks we can use some of our empty hotel (and villa or condominium) rooms to host as many journalists as possible, even though this would mean them traveling on a two flight journey to currently reach us.
We, as other local tourism partners, recently spent time with a travel writer, and later photographer who were preparing an article that is scheduled to appear in the January/February 2011 edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
I am told an estimated 7 million people will view the feature, either in print or online. To the best of my knowledge, it hasn’t cost Barbados a penny. In this case they both booked and paid for their own accommodation, transportation and meals.
Dallas-Fort Worth is the world’s third busiest airport
Yet to reach such a large audience of already travel motivated readers, through a journal of this quality, graphically demonstrates there are still ways we can solicit greater destination coverage, at little or no actual cost. We must also explore other smart partnerships with product placement, co-operative competitions with radio stations, banner advertising on focused websites, to identify just some.
A simple example would be posting an ‘ad’ on the DFW Airport website announcing the launch of the flight. Every second, every day, thousands of travelers log-on to the site to check departure and arrival times, car parking facilities, airport hotels, terminal and gate details etc.