Advertising expert Merijn Schildkamp: How to advertise at Schiphol

Merijn Schildkamp is Key Account Manager of Aviation and Corporate Accounts at Schiphol Media. He advises airlines including Etihad, Malaysia Airways and KLM about advertising at Schiphol. Merijn knows everything about airport advertising – and also about passenger behavior.

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Time spent at the airport is never wasted. There's a lot to see and do. Merijn comments, 'On average, people walk around for 146 minutes before their flight leaves, and arriving passengers spend at least 20 minutes walking through the airport before coming out at Schhol Plaza.'

Schiphol itself takes advantage of the dwell times by focusing on the passenger experience. It offers good service, a good selection of shops and a good choice of horeca. But as Merijn points out, 'Airline ads are also important in contributing to the passenger experience. That's why airlines want to reach passengers – including those flying with rival airlines – at strategic locations such as on the piers and at the gates.'

3 Aviation Airport Advertising methods

  • Targeted ads: targetting specific locations
  • Out-of-home advertising: for example, outdoor advertising on highway masts to introduce a new destination
  • Promotions and brand loyalty, i.e. ads about the service being offered on board. For example, if Etihad presents its services to passengers in the hope that they will fly with Etihad next time.

Focusing on the departing passenger

Of course, airlines do differentiate between the various target groups that they wish to reach, but they also quite often focus on a broad group. Merijn explains, 'Establishing a presence and communicating at strategic locations has the greatest effect. Nine out of ten times, airlines display their messages in lightboxes on the piers leading towards destinations that they also fly to. But highway masts are also used to promote new destinations. Besides this, airlines are also increasingly using special promotions, such as Etihad's 'Mobile Exposition': a truck containing a reconstruction of a business-class seating area. This enabled passengers to experience for themselves what it's like to fly in a high-class way with the airline. Over a 10-day period, 150 people visited the truck each day. Each and every one of them had a big smile on their face as they came out. That's a really clever way to advertise because you create not only brand awareness but also interest and desire.'

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Focus on the returning passenger

'People coming back from holiday are an important target group for airlines. They're open to new impressions from the moment they land,' says Merijn. 'In fact, they’re ready to think about booking their next holiday. That's the perfect moment for airlines to reach out to them with a final message to send them home in a holiday mood.'

With 63.6 million passengers per year, Schiphol Airport is one of Europe's largest hubs. Planes fly from Amsterdam to 322 destinations worldwide.

Extra services and upgrades at the gate

'Passengers have to go from A to B, but they don't want to pay too much. That's why airlines are increasingly focusing on details such as food, lower prices and short transfers. They're keen to communicate about these at Schiphol. In other words, they're trying to seduce passengers – especially their own passengers – with services. For instance, they may send them an email offering an upgrade before departure. Some airlines go a step further by offering passengers a reduced-price upgrade just before boarding. Airlines do all this in order to retain passengers and ensure that they choose the same brand again next time they fly.'

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