A Plan to “Virtually” find new Flight Passengers for the El Paso / Cd Juarez Region
Again, fewer passengers flying in and out of El Paso as per the story in El Paso Inc July 2015.
Also, the same reasons for declining passenger traffic due to pass recession, decline in the number of major domestic airline companies, and cut back in smaller markets like El Paso.
Although the reasons are the same every year, there is one major factor about a small market like El Paso that these other cities do not have, and that is a twin city. Not only does El Paso have a twin city that has a population that is bigger than it but also has an airport with its domestic airlines. That is an advantage that seems to never be part of any conversation with solving El Paso’s passenger traffic.
We only have to look at San Diego and Tijuana to see that this mutual existence is beneficial. Now that “that” has been mentioned, let’s look back at El Paso’s problem.
In its infancy, there will be nothing but problems and discuss, some families are just like that. It does not have to be that way but just assessing the family problems around the region, it may start like that.
El Paso has to look to Cd Juarez and their airport as a source of its inbound and outbound flights in the future. And Cd Juarez should do the same in its relationship with the El Paso airport.
This is a plan which implemented could still be around 25 years later, just updated for the realities of the day versus the plan conceived recently of paying an airline to bring a direct flight into El Paso.
This is the open source plan
There are a few direct flights to and from El Paso which must be the focus of marketing. Atlanta and Chicago come to mind.
There needs to be a software platform upon which to market this effort.
Market experts wanted.
Reliable transportation link between El Paso airport and Cd Juarez airport is needed.
City support from El Paso and Cd Juarez in the form of contracts and small funding source.
Business support from El Paso and Cd Juarez is needed to advance the marketing efforts and funding source.
Garner support from the population between both cities. A fight worth fighting.
Market area is worth promoting.
Moving the needle with one flight at a time.
Market to Chicago or Atlanta
Since there is a direct flight from El Paso to Chicago and back, the notion to keep it has to be the premier challenge. But the result of this focus may be one or two additional flights to this city as a result of the marketing effort.
One possible scenario is to promote Cd Juarez as the gateway to all Pacific Coast destinations. Of course this may start with one or two Pacific cities. This would be a flight from Chicago to El Paso, change flights from El Paso to Cd Juarez and end at the Pacific coast destination.
Although just as difficult or more difficult is selling El Paso as the gateway to Chicago from some points in Mexico.
Software Developed Regionally
A software has to be developed where flights are booked around El Paso and Cd Juarez departure and arrival flights. The web based software which in fact the organization that runs it would care less which airline it is and whether they have existing on non-existing agreements between airlines.
If a person from Chicago can book to El Paso (which appears to be one airline at this point), then any airline that continues to the Pacific coast is all the software is interested in doing.
This would be a software company based in El Paso and have a contract from both the City of El Paso and Cd Juarez. If both cities plus their business partners can use their funding sources to decrease a flight from El Paso to the Pacific coast via Cd Juarez, that is how they may use their marking funds to do this. Sort of prepay a package flight and resell it to the focus market less 10%.
Or they can spend the marketing dollars on simply promoting a connection that does not currently exist but the software and organization makes sure that one flight is purchased in conjunction with another flight in the other country seamlessly without regard to existing airline partnership agreements. The software promotes the trip and the software connects all points.
This is a software project for the aggressive technical team that can come out of the local universities or existing web development companies in the region.
This same software has to seamlessly arrange two flight from two airports, the to and from transportation link between both airports, possible overnight stay at a local hotel, and have an available concierge to help them navigate problems on either side of the border.
Unlike most hotel and airline booking systems, this software only books pre-packaged flights through El Paso and Cd Juarez. Part One is to sell the great trip and Part Two is to connect them.
Where and How to Market
It is recommended that only one or two cities with direct flights are marketed which will keep the project small and focused. There are few direct flights to pick from anyway but Houston and Dallas are not preferred because they almost have the same access to the Pacific as does El Paso or Cd Juarez.
There are several universities who should have the talent to come up with the winning promotion.
Marketing and promotion is such a specialized field that there will not be any further discussion about it here due to the complexity of such a program and the details needed which have not been worked out.
Reliable Transportation is Almost Just as Important as the Flight Itself
Having a bad experience between airports is only one of several ways to defeat the Virtual Hub concept. Bad customer service at the airport, on the transportation link, or other regional actors can pull the idea apart even if it had a chance to succeed.
It is a long trip over the free bridge from airport to airport but what can be done. The issue can only be addressed long term as the travel between the airports becomes in the 10’s of thousands of people and more direct links are developed.
Support from the Cities
El Paso and Cd Juarez have to be the main supporters of their airports to promote focused market plans in the form of Travel Agency contracts and financial support.
Because financial cost will be the focus of this concept and its long term survival, it should be looked at very closely. Who benefits financially from this? Are these the entities that are the desired winners?
These cities also have to stand behind a contract to support the web based technical machine to make all of this happen. It is because of the internet that such a highly organized machine can even exist. They will need long term support and financial support as well but this technical group can also raise funds through advertising and other promotion.
Business Support needed Also
Just as the city has to support all related organizations to promote this focus marketing, so does the local business which can be in the form of local business organization, funding, and qualified personnel.
Business will have to play a leading role in this concept since the market is needed to eventually take over the system entirely and need government support as a result of their planning.
Business support will be the most critical because they may not have a model to go by that exist and have to develop an organization that is cooperative with each other, financially viable, provide a great personal experience to the travelers, and can and should anticipate all good and bad outcomes. Shame on them for not anticipating and they are to shoulder this responsibility solely.
They will not be able to rely on Oklahoma City or other interesting cities that have got their act together. This will take local leadership on both sides of the border to come up with a unique border solution for an organization that cannot be replicated but only a few places on the planet.
Local business will have to be the leaders in this local endeavor with few complete examples to go by. They will literally have to invent this concept. This is what a major border twin city has to do. Evolve to invent those things that border cities have as advantages. Being the largest twin border city in the world is meaningless if El Paso and Cd Juarez cannot invent border solutions to what are uniquely border issues and advantages.
Get the Masses behind You
It should not come to a vote but people should vote with their dollars. They should like the idea of traveling to Chicago as a civil duty to El Paso to visit them as well or even some Pacific coast destination that they should try. Local leaders should try to sell it and watch the local population vote with their dollars in agreement.
The travel population source from and to focus markets should be a combination of local promotion to this focus city, business interest, as well as pleasure travel. Anything to keep the planes full and encourages a new direct flight is worth the promotion to and from this focus city.
Local Market Area
There are a few interesting travel destinations that may be worth going through the El Paso / Cd Juarez market.
How about a flight to El Paso from Chicago and slow train ride from downtown El Paso to a non-stop trip to Alpine TX for a relaxing few days. Of course, Alpine may need to be dressed up a bit and have some help with local development of midrise buildings to bring density and focus market into their area. El Paso citizens may even be interested in an apartment or condo in the downtown area if they knew that there is a long term partnership to help develop Alpine as a destination from El Paso.
How about fly in from Chicago to see the copper canyon in Chihuahua and even take a train to the Pacific. Maybe better marketing, safety, and organization is needed to fully develop this as a major El Paso / Cd Juarez travel destination.
How about placing mini homes / cabins less than 100 Sq. Ft. on stills in the Franklin mountains somewhere where everyone can agree promotes use of the mountain, is cool and unique, and in a very beautiful environment within a local urban area! Sign me up! Inside McKelligon Canyon around the State Park headquarters and up the mountain side may be a good start. 20 units and the base camp at the base of the canyon for food, bathing, and recreation. The cabins are used as short term overnight sleep units. Let local architect students come up with concepts. Use colors, cabin like, metal / glass, tall walls, whatever attention that will captivate a national audience and want to try it.
As well as promote local use, it would be a small ride from airport to base camp by a local transportation provider all within the city limits and local resources. Cd Juarez may even get into the act as well.
There is always cross border entertainment and shopping but security concerns may still plague the short term promotion.
Moving the Needle
The goal is to have a net increase in passenger traffic from these target markets that encourage the increase in flights from one to two or three a day in the long term.
Working with existing direct flights and strengthening them allows for increase air traffic which helps bundle these trips between multiple markets. A flight from Salt Lake, Chicago, and Atlanta may feed into these pacific coast flights and allow greater interest for another direct flight to enter the El Paso market which will increase the mix of flights, transportation links, and flight choices throughout the day.
Any plan in the future should have the words El Paso airport and Cd Juarez airport I the same sentence or paragraph.
The weakest link in a Virtual Hub concept is local leadership.
In every major US city there are persons and families that simply defied common sense and norms to develop what would become major companies or attractions. There is no point in listing them because every American knows and admires such people in the country.
Someone with this grit and grand border perception of the region has to take a leadership role to invent the amazing things that will become normal life on the border.