Lexus adds to marketing mix with airport deal

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Dave Halliday

EDMONTON, ALTA. – Preferred airport parking isn’t the first thing that comes to mind as a way of building strong customer relationships.

But Matt Miller, general manager of Lexus of Edmonton, says customers love the idea.

“The feedback has been outstanding.”

Lexus Canada negotiated a deal with Edmonton International Airport to designate 30 parking garage stalls as preferred parking marked with the luxury brand’s logo. The stalls are close to the terminal building.

Airport spokesperson Heather Hamilton said Lexus pays for the $2-per-day upgrade to preferred parking. Customers still pay the regular $25 a day to park in the airport parking garage.

While some comments on social media described the Lexus deal as smart marketing; opponents labelled the move elitist.

Lexus made the deal through a contract with Pattison Outdoor Parking. The deal runs until March 2017.

No financial terms of the deal were released.

The deal includes a giant wrap of the airport tower and a Lexus vehicle on display inside the terminal. Revenue from the deal is being used to install digital signs.

Miller said the deal has provided lots of exposure for the Lexus brand. The airport has thousands of parking stalls, including 2,200 in the parkade.

Of course, Lexus isn’t the only luxury brand to look at differentiating the marketing mix by involving the airport. Volvo of Edmonton has taken a different approach with air travelers, offering valet parking to its customers.

While Volvo owners jet away on a trip, the dealership can clean and detail their vehicles and provide other services such as installing winter tires.

Dealer principal Mike Norris said the service is open to non-Volvo owners, so it has introduced them to the dealership’s level of service. It has helped attract new customers who have switched brands and purchased a Volvo.

In addition, it has become a profitable enterprise for the store, which is the top-selling Volvo dealer in Canada, Norris said.

For the airport, parking revenue is an important part of the budget. The Lexus deal helps offset costs.

Hamilton said airport revenue in 2015 was just over $200 million and $58 million of that total came from parking. Every dollar collected from parking is a dollar that isn’t charged to a passenger or airline.

She also noted the airport isn’t seeking to cater just to luxury makes. She pointed out that other automakers, including economy brands, could work out a similar deal.

“It’s open to any company that wants to do it,” she said.