RIGA International Airport vs Ryanair – Communication Strategy for Airport Security Fee


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Baltic PR Awards 2012
Organization: SJSC Riga International Airport
Country: Latvia
Project name: RIGA International Airport vs Ryanair – Communication Strategy for Airport Security Fee
Place: 3rd

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RIGA International Airport vs Ryanair – Communication Strategy for Airport Security Fee

  1. 1. Category: CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONRIGA International Airport vs Ryanair – Communication Strategy for Airport Security FeeSummaryIn October 2011 the Cabinet of Ministers approved new regulations on financing of the securitymeasures provided at the airport transferring them from the state budget to the passengers. As a result,from 2012 each departing passenger must pay a security fee. Ryanair was the only carrier operating atthe Airport that after long negotiations refused to include the fee into their fare. Therefore the Airportitself had to collect the fee from Ryanair passengers. The Consultancy was engaged to provide a communication strategy for informing the passengers andpublic about the new regulations, emphasizing the importance of the security measures at the Airport. Itwas crucial to explain that additional complications for Ryanair passengers were caused by the carrier’sdecision, not by the Airport. Less than a month was given to plan and implement the informativeactivities. It was decided to divide the campaign into two parts - educational and informative - to bring themessage to key stakeholders – Ryanair passengers, other travellers, opinion leaders, the Airport staff.They were provided with full information about the new procedure. There were only few complaintsfrom the passengers, and media in 90% of cases accepted the Airport’s message.SituationShortly before the new regulations were adopted, two Airport officials had created a communicationcrisis by giving conflicting information to media on the required funding and its use to ensure security.This lowered the credibility of the information provided by the Airport. Ryanair threatened to cuttraffic from Riga by 30%. There was less than a month left to plan and implement the activities forreducing the damage to the Airport’s reputation. It had to be done in the interval between Christmasand the New Year - a lively travelling season yet a quiet period for media.ObjectivesAfter research - mystery shoppers’ telephone interviews of airlines and questioning of Ryanairpassengers to identify the stakeholders and target audience, analysis of the regulations and the Airport’sofficial communication, the tasks were agreed: • Before 01.01.2012 to inform the passengers about the security fee thus preventing negative feedback after this date; • To inform Ryanair passengers about several payment options thus reducing the number of claims; • To prevent further damage to the Airport’s reputation in the media.Two target groups of Ryanair passengers were defined – Latvians aged 20 to 40 working abroad andpeople aged 50 to 70 visiting their relatives.StrategyThe campaign was divided into two parts: informative and educational: • Informative: to address economically active population, particularly the air-passengers, warning that those flying Ryanair would have extra things to do at the Airport; • Eeducational: to provide stakeholders with full information (also printed) about the importance of security and use of the security fee; • To communicate the same message to all stakeholders (Airport employees, travel agencies, tourist NGOs) and use them as communication channels; • To appoint a new spokesperson for all public communication thus rebuilding the trust undermined by the two officials;
  2. 2. Category: CORPORATE COMMUNICATION • To proactively involve the Consumer Rights Protection Centre who would identify risks and speak on behalf of Ryanair distinguishing between the Airports and Ryanair’s roles in the new procedure.Two main criteria of assessment: key messages used in media coverage and the number of passengercomplaints to the Airport.ExecutionThe campaign ran according the original plan: • December 5 – 14 – drafting of research, strategy and tactical plans. • December 21 – launch of a home page section on the security fee. • December 27 – a manual for employees with a Q/A section, rules for communication with media etc. At the beginning of January special training was delivered to group leaders (250 people). • December 27 – letters with the Q/A section sent to 50 travel agencies and 3 tourism organizations. • December 28 – informative leaflets distributed at the Airport, including pocket calendars for incoming Ryanair passengers. • December 29 – all points where Ryanair passengers could pay the security fee were marked with information banners. • December 29 – a press conference. With no additional budget for advertisements, throughout the week, before the new regulations came into force, the Airport’s message was periodically repeated in various communication channels.Documented ResultsOutputs: • 90% of media stories covering this issue accepted the Airport’s position. The informative coverage of the campaign resulted in 72 media publications within one week, 15 TV news stories, 20 radio news broadcasts, 8 stories in printed media, and 29 online publications. • In the first half of the year: - From 382 467 Ryanair passengers the Airport received just 28 claims (0.007% of the total Ryanair passenger number). - 60 000 copies of each informative leaflet were distributed to passengers at the Airport. - 31578 people visited “Security Fee” section on the Airport home page. - Positive feedback from the Airport staff working with customers.Outcomes: • By June 30, 2012 Riga Airport had sold 149342 security fee coupons. • The reputation of the Airport has not suffered as Ryanair rather than the Airport was criticized for creating complications to the passengers.