Four Ways to Promote Your Flight School Over the Holidays

By Paula Williams
flight school promotionSome flight schools have such a slow period during the holidays that they take time off. Others find that it’s a great time to reach future private or career-minded pilots.

What’s the difference?

Prospective students have more time to reflect on their goals and dreams, their friends and family are looking for innovative and unique gift ideas, and everyone is looking for special experiences with family and friends.

All of these are great reasons to reach out and present your offerings.

 

Here are four promotions that flight schools have used to ring in a busy and profitable holiday season, from very different flight schools in different parts of the country.

Demo Flights

The “Demo Flight” or “Discovery Flight” is a stock sales technique for many flight schools; but you can take this up an notch and make it relevant to the holidays by providing gift certificates or providing a giftwrapped toy airplane so that gift givers have something to put under the tree.

Others offer special discounts during the holiday season. If you’re typically slow during January and February, this might be a great time to offer a discount.

Examples: You’ll find many, many examples of Discovery Flight ads on Groupon or simply by searching for “demo flight” or “discovery flight” on the web. You can see the options and prices in your area and craft your own offer from many great ideas.

Scenic Tours

Scenic tours may not directly sell your flight school program, but they can bring in revenue, and raise awareness in the community. People most likely to enjoy a scenic tour are also people who may have an interest in learning to fly.

And, of course, a wonderful experience with a scenic flight might be the key positive inspiration and introduction to your flight school, ideally with your flight instructors, that makes them comfortable taking the next step in realizing their own latent dream of learning to fly!

Depending on the scenery that’s available in your region, you could do scenic tours of fall foliage, snow-covered forests, urban areas with Christmas lights, or New Year fireworks aloft.

To make this even MORE gift-worthy, add extras like flowers, dinner, ground transportation, and other amenities that make this a real “experience” for the recipient.

Examples:

  • Williamsburg Flight Center in Virginia offers 45 minute scenic flights for $269 , or 60 minute flights for $339.
  • Starlight Flight in Dallas Texas offers a 30 minute Christmas Light Airplane Tour for $190. Extras like mistletoe, roses or mixed flowers are available at a small additional cost.

Learn to Fly Packages

Many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles use Christmas as an opportunity to provide an educational opportunity for the young people in their lives. While a full private pilot program is not a decision to be engaged in lightly or be seen as a present to put under a tree, a flight school marketing director with a little ingenuity can create a package of services that IS affordable for parents or relatives as a gift, and leads a student one step closer to his dreams.

Example:

Aero-Sphere Flight Training in Longmont, Colorado offers packages at different price points, so that gift-givers have convenient options:

Learn-To-Fly Packages

Package 1: One (1) hour of flight in our Cessna 172 (with instructor, $166.66 value) and 2 hours of Ground lessons ($80.00 value) and a logbook ($12.00 value) for $166.66

Package 2: One (1) hour in the Full Motion Simulator (with instructor, $100.00 value) and 2 hours of Ground lessons ($80.00 value) and a logbook ($12.00 value) for $100.00

Package 3: Five (5) hours of flight in our Cessna 172 (with Instructor, $833.30 value) and 5 hours of Ground lessons ($200.00 value) and a logbook ($12.00 value) for $833.33

Charity/Community Events

The holidays are an extraordinary time to highlight the compassion of the aviation community with great stories. If you’re inclined to get involved with other local businesses and charities, the holidays are a great time to do it, AND you will get extra publicity for your efforts while helping your cause. Local TV, radio and newspapers are often looking for “good news” holiday stories during the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Examples:

Leading Edge Aviation in Utah has held extensive events in conjunction with local charities. These tie into the long tradition of aviators as generous members of the community.
In an example post on Facebook they posted a thank you on their social media that broke down the numbers for a holiday event:

  • 6,000 pounds of donations
  • $4,700 in cash and checks
  • 20 planes
  • 1 Santa
Princeton Airport in New Jersey posted this article on their blog:

As the executive director for Angel Flight West said, “The faces on the kids said it all, but one story that I thought captured the impact we made perfectly came from one of the Special Skills teacher that drove us back to the FBO after the event. She tearfully shared with me the story of one of her ODD kids who acted out aggressively yesterday. As it turns out, the boy had written an essay about how much he hated Santa Claus because he had only received one gift from him and that was when he was 4. Evidently, it was not a coincidence that he acted out when he did, because he wanted to get out of the assembly so he wouldn’t be disappointed by Santa…again. She made sure he was front and center today and his face lit up.”

Promoting Your Flight School During the Holidays

Flight schools across the country are putting creativity and thought into creating packages of services such as demo flights, scenic tours, “learn to fly” packages, and charity and community events. These flight schools have found that these special offers and efforts help them reach into their communities, raise awareness, and sell more flight training programs!

6 Comments
  • BIll Donaldson
    Posted at 14:26h, 08 November Reply

    How do you recommend we advertise these promotions

    • Paula Williams
      Posted at 13:46h, 09 November Reply

      Thanks for the question, Bill !

      Depends on what you have to work with.

      If you have a list of current/prospective students, postcards are inexpensive and can be very effective.
      We’ve seen flight schools use USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) to only the most affluent sub-zip codes in their areas with good results.
      If you have a large following on social media, then some promotional posts are an obviously targeted choice.
      Invite customers, flight instructors, etc. to get involved in your advertising.
      Maybe shoot a promo video for social media or as a CD to send out with student invoices.
      Coordinate with local media (radio, TV, etc.) which are often looking for items for their community calendars.
      If you need to purchase advertising, target very carefully- choose local publications with the demographics you want as students.
      In all cases, watch your costs and track your ROI.

      Any of these ideas help?

    • Admin
      Posted at 15:02h, 09 November Reply

      I still think it’s hard to beat email as far as cost-effective advertising. It would be most effective though if you’ve already built your list.

      • Paula
        Posted at 17:08h, 09 November Reply

        Good point! Just be sure you could comply with CAN/SPAM regulations, and be aware that email has historically low open rates. Hard to beat the cost, though! It’s best to use two more advertising methods. (Email + postcards or radio + social media) for best results. People are busy this time of year, so Overkill is underrated!

  • Jamie Summers
    Posted at 16:25h, 08 November Reply

    Thanks for getting me thinking about this. Sometimes we get so bogged down running the business we forget about seasonal promotions.

    • Paula Williams
      Posted at 17:35h, 09 November Reply

      Yes, the holidays happen so fast that it’s easy to let the opportunity slip by!

Post A Comment