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Planes Unite Fans

Tim Tebow addresses the Wichita State University men’s basketball team. Coach Gregg Marshall looks on. Photo by Kellen Marshall
Tim Tebow addresses the Wichita State University men’s basketball team. Coach Gregg Marshall looks on. Photo by Kellen Marshall

What do New York Jets quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow have in common with the Wichita State University men’s basketball team? Besides entertaining sports fans with their winning abilities, both understand that private aviation brings people together. Often in powerful ways.

Tebow and the WSU Shockers recently met up on the tarmac. The team had just flown in to Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, returning from their game-changing upset of Gonzaga, the NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. Tebow’s jet also happened to be at the airport refueling. When he learned that the victorious team was nearby, he couldn’t resist a chance to talk to the players.

Mid-Continent Airport employees line up to show their support for the local team. Courtesy Mid-Continent Airport.
Mid-Continent Airport employees line up to show their support for the local team. Courtesy Mid-Continent Airport.

Tebow donned his motivational speaker mantle and joined Coach Gregg Marshall and the team on their bus. He congratulated them on their victory, saying no matter what the future holds, they would never forget this unexpected win, the memories they’re making or the people they’re inspiring. Tebow’s singular act – taking time to connect before boarding his aircraft – will no doubt do some inspiring of its own. Tonight, March 28 they play a Sweet 16 game against La Salle in Los Angeles.

Wichita Fire Department and Mid-Continent employees give departing Wichita State University charter jet a water cannon salute. Courtesy Mid-Continent Airport.
Wichita Fire Department and Mid-Continent employees give departing Wichita State University charter jet a water cannon salute. Courtesy Mid-Continent Airport.

*Originally published in BlueSky Business Aviation News on March 28, 2013.

Wichita Eagle; Agents steer travelers through unsettling situations

March 17, 2013

Wichita Eagle
Carrie Rengers

Greteman Group president and creative director Sonia Greteman and her husband, Chris Brunner, booked what they thought would be a trip of a lifetime to Egypt in 2011.

“Chris and I were 15 minutes from walking out the door,” Greteman said. “Our suitcases were packed.”

They printed their boarding passes, and then the phone rang. It was someone with their National Geographic tour group explaining that Internet and cell service had gone down in Egypt, where a revolution was under way. And the tour’s contacts there couldn’t be reached to say whether the situation was safe.

The trip was canceled.

Chris Brunner and Sonia Greteman in 2012 in front of the pyramids in Egypt, which they missed seeing in 2011 because of civil unrest in the country.
Chris Brunner and Sonia Greteman in 2012 in front of the pyramids in Egypt, which they missed seeing in 2011 because of civil unrest in the country.

The next year, Greteman and Brunner booked the trip again, not realizing it would be on the anniversary of the revolution. In the days before they left, there was rioting in Egypt.

“We couldn’t believe it on the news the night before,” Greteman said. “We were just thinking, is this going to happen to us again?”

It didn’t, but it’s the kind of unsettled situation many travelers find themselves in for various reasons – civil unrest, stranded ships, medical issues, missed flights – and that’s where travel agents often come in. It could be with advice before travel begins or help after something happens.

“We send people all over the world,” said Jim Friesen of Reflection Travel Agency. He said he’s careful when advising customers whether a place is safe.

“What is safe?” Friesen said. “You can’t guarantee anything. The minute you recommend something, man, it comes back to bite you.”

He said he’s never had to rescue a traveler from a situation.

“Most people, if they think they’re not supposed to go (somewhere), they’re not going to go.”

Traveltime owner Suzanne Krause said tour operators won’t knowingly put customers in dangerous situations.

“They will change your itinerary to another city … that’s not having problems.”

For instance, Krause had some clients who were going on a Mediterranean cruise at a time when riots in Greece were “a real big deal.”

She said the cruise line gave them the option of a refund or an itinerary change.

“There is no way they’re going to put you in harm’s way,” Krause said. “They don’t want the lawsuit.”

Her clients chose to cancel because they wanted to see Greek sites the tour operator recommended they bypass for safety.

“It was three cabins, so it was a good chunk of business,” Krause said.

That’s unusual for her and other agents, though.

“It doesn’t come up that often,” said Devin Hansen, president of Sunflower Travel. He credits savvy travelers and technology.

“That’s one great thing about the Internet anymore,” Hansen said. “They’ve already done the research. … You can kind of see the train wreck coming.”

Sometimes agents have to overcome bad travel news and accompanying fears, though.

“It affects bookings in the short term,” said Jeff Arensdorf, owner of Village Tours & Travel. “People read the news and see the news, and they get a little antsy. I would say that people that have a lot of experience in traveling and in cruising, it doesn’t affect them as much as it does the rookies.”

Arensdorf said if given the opportunity, he tries to change people’s minds.

“Yeah, but we need to have them call us first.”

He does e-mail blasts to customers as “a good way to educate them.”

Even without news of electrical and other problems with cruise ships, Arensdorf said some people have concerns about cruising, such as being in confined spaces or experiencing rough seas.

“Then this just puts them over the edge,” he said.

“We are starting to see some lower rates and some extra incentives. They’re trying to entice people to come aboard.”

Krause said, “I had someone ask me the other day, ‘Would you go on a cruise?’ And I said, ‘Of course!’

“People just have to realize those things don’t happen all the time.”

Arensdorf said cruise reservation counts are off a bit, but that could be for myriad reasons, such as debt talk.

“Weather affects our business, too. There’s so many factors. It’s so hard.”

He said sequestration could lead to potential issues at national parks as the touring season gears up, “which irritates me because there are so many other things they could cut. It’s political.”

South of the border

Mexico is a constant topic of concern for travelers.

“It’s probably the number one thing I sell,” Krause said. “I would go today. … I just have no fear of that area at all.”

Still, there are certain border cities and other places she recommends avoiding, and Krause said she likes to have conversations with clients before they go even if it’s to someplace considered safe.

“You have to be wise,” Krause said. “You can’t go out and get completely blitzed and then stumble around outside and hope nothing bad happens.”

Hansen has been to Mexico three times in the last six months.

“It’s got the best pricing right now,” he said, adding that with a flight from Wichita “you can be on the beach by noon.”

Hansen said customers have to weigh fun against risk.

“Anything can happen to somebody on any given day,” he said.

Friesen pointed out that’s true in the United States, too.

“It’s not safe to go to New York City if you go to certain areas.”

Carina Michel, president at Warren Travel, said the biggest issue she generally deals with is canceled flights.

Except for people who are frequent travelers, she believes a lot of Americans are hesitant to travel internationally, even to areas that aren’t hot spots.

“Americans feel sort of isolated over here and don’t really understand what’s going on in different countries and are leery about everything and everybody.”

A lot of business travelers aren’t, though, agents say.

“I have a doctor who goes to Pakistan a lot,” Friesen said. “He flies into Karachi … which isn’t one of the places I’d want to go.”

Friesen said business people have contacts who tell them whether it’s safe or not.

“They go in with a different attitude than a tourist.”

Krause said she has a friend who is a missionary and is going to Pakistan.

“That one concerns me,” she said. “But she’s pretty determined.”

Krause regularly checks for advisories.

“It tells you what areas are … kind of concerning. I pay attention to that.”

For example, she said Kenya around election time “can get really uncertain.”

Ken Brodbeck of Coventry Travel said he had some customers traveling to Egypt who refused to be swayed by unrest there.

“It was one of their bucket list countries they wanted to go to, so they were going regardless,” he said. “A lot of it depends on whether people have some travel savvy, how they feel about going.”

Greteman and Brunner got their Egypt trip last year on their second try, and there was a payoff to traveling there when few other tourists were.

When they went to see King Tut’s mask, instead of waiting in a museum line for an hour or two and then spending only a second or two with it, Greteman says they walked right up and could spend all the time they wanted.

“We had the room to ourselves,” she said. “It was kind of eerie.”

Greteman said she feels for Egyptians who rely on tourists for income.

“I just don’t think the tourists have come back,” she said. “People think it’s too volatile there.”

She’s grateful for her opportunity to go, though.

“It was really an incredible trip.”

© Wichita Eagle, 2013


Plug In to Tradeshow Social Media

I set out to practice what Greteman Group preaches at this year’s Heli-Expo. From the opening ribbon-cutting, to the closing ceremonies, the right cocktail of social media let me document, dialogue, and diary the Heli-Expo 2013 experience.

The first tool unleashed from my arsenal was the hot new microvideo-sharing app, Vine, which let me share the ribbon cutting during the opening ceremony. Next, I tweeted the opening statements of Chris Erickson, Chairman of Helicopter Association International (HAI), based in Alexandria, VA. HAI’s event-driven mobile app allowed anyone a quick overview of the day’s schedule.

Plan ahead

In social media, planning leads to peak performance, and that couldn’t be more true than making sure your mobile device is ready for every eventuality. If you’re going to be on your feet all day, having the right outlet for what you want to share with your audience is essential. That, and your charger.

It paid off when it came to making the most of my time at Heli-Expo, hosted March 4-7 in Las Vegas, Nev. The world’s leading international helicopter tradeshow boasted its sixth consecutive year of record-breaking growth, making the 20,393 attendees the largest turnout to date. The sheer numbers of people milling around 1.5 million square feet of convention space could have been daunting. It was essential to have a plan. I used the tools HAI had put in place, and the information it had touted with online media, to identify ahead of time and locate in person whom and what I was looking for among the 736 exhibitors and 60 helicopters.

Engagement propels traffic

Successfully multitasking through the maze of booths, helicopters and Iron Man photo ops could have seemed like an impossible feat, especially when there were so many factors competing for my attention. But it only involved spending a few moments of my time to include myself in the dialogue taking place between companies, vendors, HAI, attendees and those checking in from afar. I didn’t have to keep my mobile device in my hand at all times, I just knew where to listen and how to contribute. While at the show I joined the ongoing Twitter conversation under hashtag #EXPO2013. Our agency’s Heli-Expo interactions drew more than twice as much traffic to our Twitter account @gretemangroup. More important, we made connections with people and continue to engage with them even after the expo has ended.

Speak up

It’s not enough to be present at an event. Through Twitter, Facebook and Vine, I was able to be current, interacting with aviation industry big hitters like Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, and Ramco, and share up-to-the-minute information with people thousands of miles away. I wasn’t a social media wallflower and it showed in the conversations that were sparked. Despite enormous attendance, social media can ensure your voice is heard and felt. You may have a beautiful booth, but being aware and engaged in an event’s social media presence allows you to escape the confines of your rented space.

Next year’s Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, Cal. will undoubtedly be even larger. The conversation has already started. Will you be talking to us next year?

*Originally published in SpeedNews on March 14, 2013.

Top 10 Tradeshow Tips

Our agency’s been making a case for business aviation for almost a quarter century. And we can tell you, absolutely, unequivocally; no marketing platform bests face to face. As a result, both the number of aviation tradeshows and participation in them continue to grow, seemingly exponentially. The cost of these shows is high. The cost of not maximizing them fully is even higher. Here are the top 10 lessons we’ve learned.

  1. Know the culture.What’s right for Abu Dhabi and Dubai may be quite different than for Shanghai and Singapore, Geneva and Paris than Sao Paulo and Las Vegas. Nuances abound. Run your marketing messages and plans past your reps in the region. Sooner rather than later. We’ve had exhibitors tell us the lack of clear wording has led people to walk right past a booth – and just by changing messaging, they’ve seen booth traffic increase.

    Knowledgeable, engaging staff capture and keep your attention.
    Knowledgeable, engaging staff capture and keep your attention.
  2. Plan your approach. Set times with key customers and prospects well in advance. They feel respected and special, and you come across as more strategic and organized – the type of person they want to do business with. Tap into apps that show you everything from exhibit maps to press events. It’s never been easier to work the floor smart. And maybe even save you a few steps.
  3. Create buzz. Work your media contacts and your social network to get the word out about press conferences, announcements and news. Engage your tribe through social media. Include a snipe on ads. Issue emails to current and prospective customers. Talk up your plans in person and over the phone. Make your information – press releases, invites, new product information – easily accessible digitally, but also have print copies on hand. Check when others are making big announcements and do your best to hold yours during a different time slot.
  4. Choose your team.Put your most personable yet assertive people front and center – and prep them so they’re fully in the know. Keep the conversation going once you’ve drawn people in. A booth’s no place for shy-wallflower-staffers. They stay backstage.

    Offer adequate bandwidth and people will come to your booth – and stay.
    Offer adequate bandwidth and people will come to your booth – and make themselves comfortable.
  5. Stand out. We still remember Aircell’s surfer guys and gals even years later. Avinode’s turned heads with something simpler, but equally memorable: apple-green Converse sneakers for suited-up staffers. It works because you hadn’t seen it before. And remember, comfort and functionality matter. Offer good WiFi and thick carpet padding in your booth. People will come. And linger.
  6. Offer and publish activity. Create an interactive draw in your booth. If possible, give people the chance to demo your product/service. Take video and share it on YouTube and through your social channels. Haven’t tried Vine yet? What are you waiting for? Either hire a photographer or designate a team member to take photos and video throughout the show. Capture booth events, press conferences and more. Don’t miss an important moment. Also, please, please, please be sure your sound quality is good. We’ve all attended announcements where you couldn’t hear what was being said. Don’t be that company.
  7. Give something away.But not just anything. Make it worthy and appealing to customers. And, ideally, tie it to your marketing message. Wichita’s small-but-mighty economic development coalition offered a Cessna Skycatcher at one NBAA. More than a thousand people entered to win. You can bet they all walked away knowing Cessna calls the Air Capital home.

    One of the most memorable product launches we’ve attended: the new super-medium twin Bell 525 Relentless at Heli-Expo 2012.
    One of the most memorable product launches we’ve attended: the new super-medium twin Bell 525 Relentless at Heli-Expo 2012.
  8. Avoid budget busters. Plan upfront for any deviation from the norm to take twice as long and double costs. Expect the unexpected. Give yourself some cushion so you don’t find yourself locked in to the same-old tired thinking and execution. Have a back-up plan, especially when your booth’s centered around technology. Allow for ample testing and a Plan B if something stops working.
  9. Solicit input. Give people a chance to tell you what they think while they’re in your booth. And have a process in place to capture that. Build in frequent breaks for booth staffers so they can log input before it’s forgotten. Consider capturing input, too, with video kiosks, iPad/laptop/computer stations. Provide options, including making feedback anonymous if people prefer.
  10. Pace yourself. Build in something of interest every day of the show. Could be a press conference on day one, an end-of-day cocktail hour on day two, a drawing on day three. Keep them coming back. You don’t want them to think one and done. Consider hosting a VIP or exclusive preview. You make people feel extra special when you create an event just for them.

Buyers and sellers will unite April 16-18 at Shanghai Honggiao International Airport for ABACE. Hope these tips help you add some final polish to your plans.

*Originally published in the March 14 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

It Pays to Fly With Google

Aircraft manufacturers, suppliers and others in the industry rely on websites for information as much or more than anyone. But we all need to ask ourselves, are we racking up enough quality flight time with Google? The more you make Google happy, the more it will do for you. Such as introducing your site to – well, pretty much everyone. More specifically, and more importantly, Google can provide introductions to all the right people. When your site plays nice with Google, you get higher search-results rankings.

And because Google is picky about its friends, it’s important to know how to dress and act around it in order to get noticed. This process is called search engine optimization, or SEO.

Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for your special Google time.

·         Know the words/terms that would attract the most people to your site.

·         Make sure your key pages have two to three paragraphs of keyword-rich content.

·         Give each page a unique meta-description (fewer than 160 characters).

·         Use unique HTML header tags and permalinks to maximum effect.

·         Put important information in text (not images) so search engines can read it.

·         Update content frequently to help increase page rankings.

·         Use alt text on all images.

Search engines have to be able to find your site and put your content into their databases. They serve as the primary mode of navigation for almost all web users. Optimizing a website for search engines requires an appraisal of content, functionality and more. SEO drives traffic. And the best thing is – it’s not just random traffic. It’s people who are specifically looking for what you have to offer. At that point it’s just like getting feet in the door of your brick-and-mortar store – you have to convince them that you have what they need. And, of course, you can’t do that if they never even make it through the door.

There are many elements to consider when working to optimize your site for search engines. It can be a bit of an art rather than a science – there certainly are no cookie-cutter solutions. Each website, each business, is different with unique goals. Here are a few of the more important considerations.

·         Keyword research. Starts simply by brainstorming the terms people would use to search for what you offer. But the only way to know for sure is to test those words.

·         On-page optimization. Includes basics such as ensuring that you have descriptive title tags, well-thought-out meta tags, smart keywords and alt tags for images so search engines can read them.

·         Site structure. Thoughtful navigation and an organization that keeps most of your pages within a link or two of your home page helps keep your full site stronger in the eyes of search engines.

·         Link building. Work to get other sites to link to you. Such links greatly increase your search profile. Strategies to build links vary widely and depend on the nature of your site. Links help (or hurt) based on the page rank of the linking site. Bad sites = bad links.

·         Brand building. Boost your brand’s value proposition and chances are you’ll also boost your search profile. Search rewards robust, real brands that deliver what customers seek.

·         Adjusting. Periodically review your pages using analytics. See what’s working and what isn’t. Then make adjustments that take advantage of this real-world knowledge. This is one of the major benefits – or disadvantages – of the digital landscape. A marketer’s job is never done.

See how your site measures up with our free website scorecard test:

*Originally published in the December 2012 issue of SpeedNews.

WBJ; Who we follow: Aviation, local and locally relevant

March 5, 2013

Wichita Business Journal
Emily Behlmann

As a business publication in the Air Capital of the World, we try to stay on top of news in the aviation industry as a whole, not just the happenings of Wichita-based companies.

You’ll notice, then, that our “Who we follow” lists reach beyond the Wichita metro area to include some key aviation players from around the world. That could be a major manufacturer like Boeing, which is phasing out its physical presence here but maintains relationships with local subcontractors; an aviation-focused journalist or blogger; or a labor union like the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

Our main interest in assembling these lists is to choose companies and individuals that share information relevant to Wichita aviation.

The Twitter list, Facebook list and shared Google Plus circle are linked below, but here are a few standouts I particularly recommend:

• Spirit AeroSystems — Tweeting at @SpiritAero, Wichita’s largest employer shares lots of photos and interacts with customers.

Bombardier Aerospace — On Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, sometimes talking about Wichita-built aircraft. As a bonus, each update from the Canadian company is posted in both English and French.

Cessna Aircraft Co. — This Wichita-based manufacturer’s Facebook page is very active, thanks in part to the community of pilots and other fans it has built.

• SPEEA — The aerospace engineers’ and technicians’ union uses Twitter as a platform for building support and making its case for workers. It’s a serious cause, but @SPEEAoften carries it out with a sense of humor. We’ve blogged about SPEEA tweets and videosa couple times before. Particularly interesting was a lengthy back-and-forth between SPEEA and Spirit leading up to a contract vote.

• EADS — The parent company of Airbus is one of the few firms in our Google Plus circle that’s really active on that network, sharing lots of video and photos.

Greteman Group — Aviation is a big focus area for this Wichita-based branding agency, and they talk about it all the time on Twitter and Facebook. Today, they’re live-tweeting from Heli-Expo 2013 in Las Vegas.

National Transportation Safety Board — I just started following the @NTSB on Twitter when the board began investigating incidents on the Boeing 787. It turned out to be a great source of information about all kinds of NTSB investigations. The board studies aviation, highway, marine, rail and pipeline accidents.

Daniel McCoy — I obviously suggest you follow our aviation reporter. He tweets regularly about aviation issues at @ICTBiz_DMcCoy. His Twitter avatar, by the way, is a photo taken when he rode along on a KC-135 refueling mission from McConnell Air Force Base.

And here are the full lists:

Facebook list — aviation.

Who are we missing? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter (@ICTBizJournal).

© Wichita Business Journal, 2013

20 Years of Making Waves, Creating Raves

Two decades ago we helped friends create a brand that’s added saucy sizzle to our solar system. Today, the Planet Hair name and out-of-this-world logo are a familiar and beloved part of the Air Capital. Planet Hair founded the wildly successful ArtAID fundraiser just a year after opening. Its many recognitions include Aveda’s Humanitarian Award and being named one of the nation’s fastest growing salons. And we can tell you, it’s been a blast.

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KSN; Phony Facebook cop reveals the broad reach of social media

February 28, 2013

KSN News

A Wichita man felt the lasting effects of what he posted on his Facebook page in jail. It was the 28 year-old’s Facebook page that got him arrested.

A complaint from the public alerted Wichita police the man was impersonating a police officer online. An investigation revealed he was clearly posing as a police officer. The man was arrested and his Facebook page has since been removed. The incident reveals some of the effects of what we post online.

Social media has evolved into a field of work in itself, where people are always watching what others are saying. These days it’s harder to find someone who’s not on Facebook.

“I’m sure those college students thought this is a great way to stay in touch with each other,” says the Greteman Group’s Associate Vice-President Jennifer Szambecki.

But Facebook and social media sites like Twitter and YouTube have evolved beyond staying in touch. Just like the complaint that revealed a Wichita man using his Facebook page to impersonate a police officer, people on social media are always watching.

“We have our client’s social media feeds up all the time, we’re constantly monitoring, constantly listening because it has changed the expectation of the customer and the community for the response time that they’re going to get for whatever they want to know,” explains Szambecki.

Szambecki isn’t looking for police impersonators. But she is always watching the buzz on social media and how it might impact her clients.

“Some hire us simply to monitor and listen with them to what others are saying about their brand and advise them about how they can speak about their own brand thru social media,” says Szambecki.

Proving what you say on Facebook, “He was clearly representing himself as a police officer. That is a crime. He was arrested,” says Lieutenant Doug Nolte. can have lasting effects.

Szambecki says, “It’s made marketing more immediate everyone has to be so nimble, so aware all the time.”

As for the man arrested, police say Facebook was the only place they believe he used to pose as a police officer.

© KSN News, 2013

The Value of a Vision Board

Vision’s defined as the state of seeing. So it makes sense that when creating or rethinking a brand, you want clear eyes. Ones fully capable of locking in on your strategic advantages, unique value proposition, brand essence or whatever buzzword you want to call it. A vision board helps you home in. To see potential iterations of a look and feel. A color combination, photo style or type treatment. To generate choices and directions without over thinking them. To quickly get ideas in front of decision-makers for feedback.

A vision board saves time by adding clarity, accelerating decision-making and reducing unknowns. It encourages you to try new things and color outside the lines, then helps you think things through and to view those thoughts tangibly and holistically. And to ensure the face you’re presenting to the world is the right one.

Our vision boards for USAIG offer an example. vision board usaig