Five Tips for Route Development to Boost A Destination’s Efforts

March 07, 2024
Airplane flying a route during sunset

Destinations know the importance of increasing airlift, but achieving growth is more difficult than saying, “Call up Delta or United.” It takes the right visionaries with experience on the ground to point a destination in the right direction, to meet the needs and goals of that particular place. 

What we’re trying to say is that there is no single solution for all destinations. It’s way too complex to even pretend there is a single way to do it.

Instead, following these five starting points for route development will help lay the proper framework to get any destination on the road — or rather, runway — to create more lift to and from their airports. By thinking the right way and approaching route development strategically, destinations can start the process.

1. Investigate Target Carriers

It may seem obvious to you that a certain airline should want to invest in your destination. But not all carriers have the same business goals. A healthy dose of upfront research will help you understand what carriers want and how you can appeal to them. There may very well be a reason that a certain airline doesn’t fly to your region, but you won’t know until you lay the groundwork.

2. Data, Data, Data.

And more data! Having numbers to convince carriers that your destination is going to be the right investment is absolutely necessary for creating new routes. It seems obvious that showing visitation numbers and market research are mandatory, but it’s not always easy to obtain the right numbers. 

For any destination looking to move up on the list for carriers to consider and show you know how to do business, providing the right data is an unskippable step. It’s pivotal to making the case that your destination is worth their time.

3. Partnerships and Networking

A powerful, concrete tip for route development is one we all learn as children. Work together. Your destination is full of partners who will benefit from increased airlift, so fold them into the conversations to make the case vis-a-vis airlines. 

Reach out to the airport authority or send a survey out to stakeholders to share your strategies together. Consider partnering with other DMOs and economic development groups in the region who may also benefit from new routes. The louder the demand, the more likely you are to be heard.

4. Be Present and Consistent

Meeting airline decision makers is a strategic way to stay top of mind. This means attending and presenting at meetings and events whenever possible, wherever possible, as long as airline representatives will be attending, too. Routes is just one of many examples of such an event. It will even mean organizing your own industry event and inviting carriers to participate, when the opportunity arises. 

However you do it, just be sure to earn as much face time with decision makers as possible.

5. Showcase Your Marketing

Avoid expecting that airline decision makers know what sort of marketing and promotion you’re doing all the time. There are a lot of destinations in the world clamoring for their attention. Instead, be sure to showcase what you do in the markets that are of interest to the carriers in question, whether they already service it or not. If they see you active someplace they want to be active, the synergy will begin to brew immediately. 

Even just sending your contacts links to successful campaigns is a powerful way to get your marketing materials in front of the right eyes.

Getting tips on route development is easy if you know the right people. Get in touch with Siobhan Chretien at [email protected] who heads up this service at DCI to learn about how DCI can work with you on Route Development strategies. 

Written by

Siobhan Chretien

Senior Director