5 Things DMOs Need To Know About Route Development

February 02, 2023

Few travelers think about how route developments affect their choice to land in your destination. They search flights and book the cheapest or most convenient ones, but airport authorities and DMOs know that it’s a lot more complicated than that.

1. Target Market Development
You want visitors from JFK in New York or LAX in California, but airlines can’t be sure that travelers in those markets even know your destination! You need to demonstrate that they do – or that they will very soon. Strategic efforts to market in your target markets surrounding desired airports is an obvious but essential step when it comes to new route development.

If you’re planning an advertising campaign, working with local travel trade members directly, or networking with local digital influencers to drive messaging about your destination, airlines need to know. Don’t keep it a secret. Airlines can run the numbers and see how many potential travelers there are, but your efforts as a DMO will dictate how many informed travelers exist in your target market.

2. Business Traveler Potential
Airlines know they don’t just shuttle leisure travelers, but they can’t instinctively know what your destination’s business traveler potential is. So show them. If you are growing a medical industry, a tech scene, or some other business sector that will attract meetings and events, it will help make the case that more flights are needed.

Of course virtual events may seem commonplace, but businesses want to meet more than ever, so showcasing your destination’s business travel prowess will show that, no matter the time of the year, there will be interest. This is where engagement with EDOs is key!

3. Offseason Visitors Engagement
In line with bolstering your business traveler potential, DMOs will want to demonstrate why offseason flights will still be needed – if year-long service is the goal. Maybe the beaches are too cold or the mountains aren’t snowy enough in the offseason, but your destination is working on ways to develop tourism during the entire year – or at least this is what you need to do to convince airlines to work on route development with you.

Beyond promoting business travel and events, you can highlight or develop events in the offseason to help bolster the claim to increased air service, even if it’s only a few times a week. The goal is to keep visitors coming, but even airlines can tell when there’s no real appeal in the offseason. It’s time to change that.

4. United Front with Local Entities
To work on flight development, DMOs need to show airlines that they aren’t the only ones seeing new flights. Local authorities and businesses who support the new endeavors will also provide ample evidence in the case for new service.

Get your partners and local community groups on board – from hotels to economic development bodies – to plead the case that you all need more airlift. A DMO on its own may appear to be biased, but having the support of other entities will show airlines that the commitment is widespread and the impact will be felt beyond just the hospitality industry.

5. Infrastructure Dedication
DMOs should be aware that airlines will more likely be on board to consider route development if your destination has shown a strong commitment to infrastructure. That includes, but is not limited to, the airport and its adjacent facilities. It also includes transportation to and from the airport, including roads, trains, and other public transportation that will help provide convenient access to visitors when deciding to book a flight.

Airlines want to see a long-term commitment to your airport, and a dedication to infrastructure and keeping the airport attractive is pivotal to adding their flights to your roster.

In the end, it’s up to the airlines to decide if it makes sense, but DMOs need to provide the most robust case possible to help them see that everybody stands to benefit from new airlift.

Considering creating new routes to and from your destination? The sky’s the limit – pardon the pun! Get in touch with Siobhan Chretien at [email protected] to learn about how DCI’s consulting services can help your DMO develop new routes and increase arrivals in the coming years.

Written by

Siobhan Chretien

Senior Director