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Islip renews $600G in contracts for MacArthur consultants

Officials at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma say the

Officials at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma say the new marketing initiative is directed at potential customers between 25 and 64 and business travelers, with a focus on Long Islanders. Credit: James Carbone

Long Island MacArthur Airport will spend nearly $600,000 on marketing consultants in 2018, part of an effort to attract more passengers and airlines to the Ronkonkoma facility.

Islip Town Board members approved plans on Dec. 19 to renew contracts with industry experts who will help airport officials with marketing, advertising and building relationships with new airlines.

The contracts — with Plano, Texas-based ICF International Inc. for about $509,000, and Hurst, Texas-based John Jamotta Consulting for about $89,600 — were executed with the goal of bringing more passengers and more airlines to the town-owned airport, MacArthur commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken said.

The spending more than doubles the total $250,000 spent on marketing contracts in 2017.

The approximate costs of ICF’s services are:

  • $361,500 on advertisements, including a spring and fall campaign
  • $100,800 for project management, tracking metrics and developing future budgets and strategy
  • $46,800 on social media campaigns, news releases, brochures and other materials

Jamotta will be charged with tracking industry changes, oversight of project goals, consumer research and offering guidance to airport leadership, LaRose-Arken said.

Since rolling out a new, five-year marketing strategy in the fourth quarter of 2016, airport officials said airlines have added three new nonstop destinations and larger planes, resulting in nearly 1,400 more seats flying out of the airport daily.

The airport also added Frontier Airlines to its fleet of carriers in 2017, a success that officials attribute to the shifts in marketing strategy, as well as improved financial performance. The addition of Frontier is projected to bring in $2.8 million in new revenue this year.

“Our airline partners are willing to invest in ISP and Long Island to see what happens,” LaRose-Arken said in a statement. “They are taking a risk on capacity and we need to make sure Long Island chooses ISP for travel. If you love your airport, use your airport.”

Officials said this year’s campaign will use advertising to promote the airport’s lower prices, convenient location and smooth passenger experience with things such as parking and security.

This year, like last, the campaign will include online, digital, radio, railroad and bus advertising.

The marketing initiative is directed at potential customers between the ages of 25 and 64 and business travelers, with a focus on Suffolk and Nassau counties — a change from the past when the airport’s marketing and advertising targeted more far-flung areas such as Queens, other parts of New York City and beyond.

“We recognized that really wasn’t our marketplace,” LaRose-Arken said. “Folks that are in those areas would use airports that are closer to them. People aren’t likely to drive past an airport to get to another airport.”

MacArthur is self-sustaining and has never used tax dollars to support its budget, but it needs permission from town officials when making major expenditures. In years of financial loss, it survived on surpluses from better years.

Daily operations are funded through fees for concessions, leases and other services. Capital projects are funded by federal, state and other grants, or with surplus funding in years it is available.

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