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Fly Wyoming's skies
[May 09, 2007]

Fly Wyoming's skies

(Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) May 9--CHEYENNE -- Sometimes it's nice to fly.

That's the message state transportation officials want to deliver to travelers from Wyoming who tend to drive to airports in Denver, Salt Lake City or Billings, Mont., rather than starting their air travel from one of Wyoming's 10 commercial airports.

The Fly Wyoming program, launched Tuesday, will highlight the benefits of flying from Wyoming with a pair of TV commercials and a series of print ads that are scheduled to appear through October.

One commercial features a couple in a car, which is stopped at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. The husband, who is driving, is clearly lost and struggling with maps while his wife looks on, annoyed.

Help comes in the form of a friendly airline pilot, who drives the now-happy couple to their destination.

The pilot is the featured character in the marketing campaign.

"We conducted some research with travelers -- business, leisure, in-state and out-of-state -- and we learned some important things," said Chris Clemens at a news conference Tuesday.

Clemens is the president of CCT Advertising, the Denver-based agency that came up with the campaign.

"It's not a stretch to understand that airports are a fast and convenient link to the outside world," he added. "And we learned that people didn't want to be oversold.

"But our biggest competitive threat in the state is the automobile. Usually, it's an economical, time-efficient way to travel, especially if the weather is nice."

The goal of the program is not to make the car the enemy.

Instead, he said, the program highlights the benefits of flying -- being able to work or sleep, and not having to wrestle with maps or directions.

"Flying comes with conveniences you just can't get in a car," he said. "This is a subtle way to compete with the car culture."

The program is the product of the Small City Air Service program, whose goal is to boost local air travel.

The program is funded by $800,000 in federal money matched by $100,000 state Transportation Commission money and $100,000 in local air service partner contributions.

"Why is this grant so important? For the first time, we have extensive research to understand where we are, where we have gaps and what needs to be filled," Wyoming Aeronautics Administrator Shelly Reams said.

"This is an exciting time for economic development. A lot of new stuff is coming."

While the Wyoming Travel and Tourism Division is chiefly concerned with bringing people to state, agency Director Diane Shober said building brand awareness is important.

"The sooner we can get folks to their destinations, the longer they can stay there," she said. "And business travelers tend to convert to leisure travelers."

While tourism is not a strong component in air travel to and from Cheyenne Regional Airport, it is to other airports in the state.

Shober said tourism is on the rise in the state, with recreation destinations reporting increases in bookings over the same time last year.

The international segment of tourism also has rebounded to the highest levels since the terrorist attacks in 2001.

"We know that international travelers don't get here by car," she said.

The likely beneficiaries of the programs will be the airlines that provide service in the state. One of them is Cheyenne-based Great Lakes Airlines.

"We want to continue to extend our thanks for all the support we have received in Wyoming," company President Doug Voss said.

The airline relocated to Wyoming about eight years ago. At that time, its focus turned from linking regional airports in the Midwest to O'Hare International Airport to connecting regional airports across the West to Denver International Airport.

"We had the best year in the history of our company last year," Voss said. "It was just tremendous, the growth in the revenue base."

Copyright (c) 2007, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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