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How To Captivate A Captive Audience Of Travelers

For digital leaders with a deft touch, a captive audience can be the ultimate creative canvas. The context can be a “pod,” such as a car or a cruise ship. Alternatively, it might be a theatre, theme park, stadium, or airport–an especially hot growth area.

Global airport retailing is expected to grow by 27% to US$49 billion by 2021, according to research firm GlobalData. The report also found that Asia-Pacific airports were responsible for $14.8 billion in consumer spending in 2016.

According to Erik Shellenberger, marketing director at entertainment giant Triyar, there are several ways to harness the opportunities that places such as airports offer. He cited slide show-style digital signage designed to spur interaction with a brand’s hashtag and put participants on TV or venue screens. “It’s fun for consumers to see their own picture or post on that screen while they’re waiting,” he said. “It's pretty simple and really cheap.”

The signage also has to be engaging and entertaining, “not just promotions,” said Shellenberger, who also runs a free resource for how to raise the guest count at bars, restaurants, or clubs.

Content that depicts a customer having a good time or doing something social beats advertisements, too, he said—and a brand could still stick a news ticker below the content featuring some type of ad.

However, it’s vital to woo your captive demographic smartly. “If you want to keep people entertained and engaged, the social media hashtag post deal would be for sure the direction I would go,” Shellenberger advised. “I'm a big fan of content marketing, so I wouldn't necessarily want to blatantly advertise to somebody. I would want to entertain them first and advertise to them second.

‘Get’ Your Target
Communications coach Annemarie Cross, who won the best podcast award in the Australian Cast Away Awards for Business, Marketing & Entrepreneurship, said she believes an organization needs to understand the mindset of the people it wants to entertain.

“You really have to have a clear understanding of who your audience is and what he or she is struggling with or challenged by,” she said.

For example, your audience might consist of “solopreneurs,” or they might operate in the fintech space. Armed with that knowledge, be relevant, speak directly to their challenges, and keep bringing value and solutions to the conversation, Cross explained.

Then there’s the all-important building of trust and credibility. To do so, couch your message carefully: “I'm very mindful of the words and phrases I use. I ensure they are similar to what my audience is saying, which instantly builds rapport and trust,” Cross said.

Remember, too, to strike the right tone. While actionable and helpful, the conversation should not be a lecture—a big turnoff. Be direct and make your introductions punchy. Get to the point, and your captive audience will be hooked, she added.

Dr. Paul Burke, an associate professor in marketing at UTS Business School, underlined just how much potential that captive audience has. Avoid assuming that standing in line or waiting for the game to recommence is a passive time-waster, he said.

“People want to be entertained,” Burke explained. “They want to see what they are about to experience, to be able to continue on with their lives and not be hungry while doing so.”

That means hearing the “back story” to the ride they are about to board or suggesting a holding area where participants can watch a video or read a poster.

“The idea is to take people’s focus away from the wait time, and for marketers it means focusing this time on your brand,” Burke said.

The next solution, he added, is technology, such as queue management apps, which direct people to areas where queue times are shorter. However short the queue, the experience of being in it should be pleasurable, according to Burke.  

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