FOR GREAT AIRPORTS
Strategic Advice for Great Airports offers a wide range of consulting services with the necessary tools and expertise to help grow your business.
We partner with our clients from start to finish, focusing on their needs while producing new ideas, developing effective strategies and designing high quality and scalable solutions.
Specialized Consulting for Airports
Mike Brown has 35 years of experience in the airport industry in strategy development, master planning, forecasting and economic impact studies.
He has worked at Canada's two largest airports, Toronto Pearson and Vancouver International, amongst others, and has a track record of innovation, analytical rigour and successful execution.
His expertise includes the impact of airports on commercial property values and hence the form of airport cities, using social media and internet search patterns as demand forecasting and air service development tools, studying household spending patterns on air travel to better understand local markets, quantifying the impact of “disruptors” such as AirBnB on the demand for air travel, and creating narratives about the catalytic economic impacts of airports.
His unique skill is in pulling insights from data and communicating them in a way that resonates with investors, business leaders, policymakers and front-line staff.
New Book Now Available: Strategic Airport Planning
Strategic Airport Planning unveils a new approach to airport planning that better captures the complexities and velocity of change in our contemporary world. As a result, it will lead to higher performing airports for users, business partners, investors and other stakeholders. This is especially pertinent since airports will need to come back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The book argues that airport planning needs to move beyond its traditional boundaries. and is replete with real examples from airports of all sizes around the world and includes practical advice and tools for executives and managers. It is recommended reading for individuals working in the airport business or the broader air transport industry, members of airports’ Board of Directors, who may be new to the business, elected officials, policy makers and urban planners in jurisdictions hosting or adjacent to airports, regulators, economic development professionals and, finally, students.
“Fast, cheap or good: pick two.”
Most airports’ strategic plans end up being “Mom and Apple Pie” documents because they shy away from the difficult choices or hold empty, unmeasurable
promises to be “the best airport”….in
something or other. I will help focus your strategic plan, identify the next inflection point and assess your readiness to make the leap to a new S-curve.
NOWCASTING & FORECASTING
QRAC (“cue-rack”) is a unique “nowcasting” tool that I have developed that uses Internet search
patterns to predict demand in the immediate future. It’s a digital canary in the coal mine. For example, search activity for the term “airport parking” in Canada predicts passenger volumes two weeks out very accurately so an invaluable tool as airports try to match constrained resources with volatile demand. QRAC works in other sectors too, for example, searches for the term “office space” predict vacancy rates three months ahead.
The pandemic has rendered traditional forecasting models if not obsolete then certainly in need of freshening up. My Four Layer Cake approach allows airport leadership teams to systematically work through all the factors driving the trajectory of the recovery including how much business travel will migrate to virtual and changing social attitudes to air travel. In doing so, airports can shape the trajectory, for example, new business opportunities as people relocate out of the major metro areas but commute back and forth bi-weekly.
Most airports economic impact studies are, frankly, costly, boring and crammed with figures that nobody necessarily believes,
understands or has any context for.
Start telling stories about how the airport enables exports, for example, the now-famous BC cherry story. Talk more about the quality of jobs and turn taxes into factoids that resonate (for example, the federal taxes from Fort St John Airport in BC pays for
the RCMP Detachment there). Finally render the information in a visually
Winning the support of politicians for the airport’s agenda is critical but the
message can get lost in translation, usually because the Poli-Sci graduates in your GR department mangle the numbers. For each riding, constituency, district or ward around your airport, I can create a profile
demonstrating the significance of the airport in terms of jobs and the propensity of residents and
businesses to fly in a way that really resonates with elected officials.
CIVITATEM AEROPORTUS / AIRPORT CITY
A lot gets written on airport cities but it’s largely aspirational and qualitative. How about some real facts and analysis that will allow you to shape and influence development and make money? Did you know that
your airport is positively impacting commercial property values for miles
around you but others are capturing that value?
I can help airports build
stronger business cases by
looking at the positive effect
on parking revenues (yes,
positive), demand for air
travel and commercial
property values both on and
off the airport.
I was fortunate to have a great education in the days when it was free. It staggers me that young people emerge from university burdened with debt. My target is to give 15% of net income from my business to support bursaries and give back in other ways. For example, for the last couple of years, I have spoken at the Queen’s Economic Case Conference (QECC), a student-run event at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
People often ask me, “What’s with your e-mail address, Mike?”. Well I had to abandon my simple shaw.ca e-mail address when I moved from Vancouver to Toronto and my current one embodies a story about Liverpool FC, its iconic stand, Spion Kop, and my great-grandfather’s role in naming it.