Shopping at Pearson is looking up

Heads up: The airport's latest push wants travellers to look to the sky (or ceiling) in a bid to promote its retail offering.

Travellers tend to be in a frazzled mindset as they move through an airport, so Toronto Pearson International Airport did a gift giveaway to get them to raise their heads and notice its new shopping options.

Pearson undertook “Operation Gift Drop,” where dozens of gift cards for the airport’s retailers – ranging from $50 to $200 – as well as lounge passes and two $1,000 donations to the charity of the receiver’s choice, fell from the ceiling, up for grabs for the people who were standing in a designated “landing zone.” Altogether, $13,500 worth of gift cards and donations were given out to travellers. Public relations agency Edelman helped organize the stunt.

The platform for the video, “Shopping at Pearson is looking up,” is meant to reflect the growing emphasis placed on the airport’s retail offering, which now includes higher-end national and international retailers like Gucci, Burberry and Michael Kors.

The idea behind the stunt was to give travellers a reason to explore the “new and improved” retail offering at Pearson and break them out of the routine of their travel habits or the rush of making it to where they need to be. The video documenting the gift drop is being shared on social media and terminal screens. The airport is also getting the video in front of travellers with a push tying it to the regular travel advisories on Dec. 19, which is expected to be Pearson’s busiest travel day of the year with a 20% increase in traffic volume.

Janine Gervais, associate director of retail and food programs at Toronto Pearson International Airport, says the airport’s retail offering was made a priority as part of a strategic plan rolled out in 2010.

“We started to prioritize retail because it has the ability to really influence the passenger experience while they are still in our space,” she says, adding it is the right time to being promoting the retail offering now that it is at the point where the changes have touched nearly every area of the airport.

Pearson is currently in the planning stages of how the retail offering will be marketed going into 2015. Gervais says there will be an increase in the marketing budget dedicated to retail, although by how much remains to be seen.

“It’s difficult to give numbers because it’s all evolving,” she says. “We now have more than 70 restaurants and retail units at the airport, so as that continues to grow and evolve, their abilities grow and changes, and creates opportunities to co-promote and to bring new creative ideas to the table. With that said, the right marketing activities and the right campaigns will be funded.”