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Recruiting Pilots When They Are In Short Supply

Executive AirShare (EAS) had a good problem. As the nation’s third-largest fractional operator, its growing fleet needed more pilots. But how do you find pilots as the supply diminishes and demand increases?

By now, the numbers are all too familiar. In 1980, more than 600,000 people held private, commercial or airline transport pilot certificates. In 2014, that number had dropped to 425,000. There were more than half a million private and student pilots in 1980; less than half that in 2014.

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the United States continues to lose about 6,000 private pilots every year. Meanwhile, pilot demand grows. 15-EXEAIR-6396_CockpitBannerAd_160x600_01Boeing forecasts a global need for 28,000 additional pilots per year for the next 20 years.

Sell the Advantages

As Flying magazine put it: “Is flying for a fractional a good career choice compared to flying for an airline? Well, with brand-new airplanes with the latest avionics, reasonable pay, schedules arranged well in advance and the variety and challenge of flying different passengers to different airports, what’s not to like?”

Executive AirShare offers a close-knit, quality-focused private operation. So its campaign led with these advantages. And did it in an attention-getting way. Its highly targeted campaign used playful creative – from “Isn’t it time you loved flying again?” to “iPads not crash pads.”

Targeted – and Effective

EAS needed exceptional pilots. That meant standard pilot job search tactics would not be enough, because the best pilots might not be looking for a job.

The company developed a digital campaign leveraging targeted programmatic placement, retargeting and direct buys – supplemented with social media posts – to highlight its tight-knit culture, dedication to excellence and attention to the kind of details that create a rewarding pilot experience.

Digital ads were targeted to demographic and lifestyle content of particular appeal to pilots. Calls to action clicked through to a recruiting web page that spelled out the advantages and made it easy for an interested pilot to check out the possibilities and complete an online application. Retargeting efforts tracked pilots who visited the recruitment page but took no action, giving them a second chance to think about the offer. Direct ads on pilot recruitment job sites rounded out the effort.

The result exceeded expectations – EAS found the pilots it needed and ended the recruitment campaign early. Now it’s a good problem – solved. For now anyway. Continued growth may have Executive AirShare looking for new pilots again soon.

This column ran in the March 31 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Graphic Designer Gloria Esparza Joins Greteman Group

Greteman Group recently added graphic designer Gloria Esparza to its team. Most recently she had worked for Gates Enterprises. At the agency, she will provide creative support for both B2B and B2C clients.

“Gloria uses her impeccable design sensibilities to not just keep up with the latest trends, but to experiment and mix styles to create something fresh,” says Sonia Greteman, agency president and creative director. “Her strong work ethic, drive and talent perfectly dovetail with Greteman Group’s culture.”

Esparza’s family emigrated from Aguascalientes, Mexico 15 years ago. She graduated magna cum laude from Newman University with a bachelor of art’s degree with a graphic design emphasis. Her love of travel has taken her to Cuba, Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic, England, Austria, the Bahamas and throughout Mexico.

“Meeting new people, discovering other cultures, trying different foods – all feed my hunger to explore,” Esparza says. “Design does, too. I’m always looking for inspiration and how my work can inspire others.”

Wichita Eagle 3.31.16
Bulldog Reporter 3.30.16

Give Consumers What They Want Digitally

The universe works in mysterious ways. There I was, attending a luncheon when I realized that the speaker for our discussion on digital trends was none other than someone I met during my college days working in a coffee shop. We had to cut our geek-out conversation short so that he could jump up and present.

What my friend outlined in the discussion wasn’t just the key trends in digital media. Many of the trends are well-known, must-haves to those of us in the digital community. He highlighted one overarching theme: give consumers what they want.

I shall explain.

Website Trends

While the presentation did a wonderful job breaking down the confusing topics of coding languages, search engine optimization and site optimization, it all related back to what the viewer wants out of a website:

As a viewer I want…

  • The site to load fast.
  • The site to work on whatever screen I’m on.
  • To find what I’m looking for easily.
  • To be engaged and entertained.

Website Trends

As you’re creating your website strategy, it’s important to ensure through the web development, image optimization and design that you’re giving consumers what they want. And this is important because it translates into more people finding your website, spending more time on your website, and completing the ultimate desired action.

Mobile Trends

The next trend topic centered around mobile. And to put it simply, if you’re not paying attention to how your brand presence in mobile you can say goodbye to at least half of your traffic. What consumers want from your website is the same for mobile. As consumers, however, we’re more impatient when it comes to mobile and it may be easiest to convey mobile trends with what viewers don’t want.

As a viewer I don’t want:

  • To have to wait to download something on my mobile devices.
  • To operate a large website on my data provider.
  • To search in vain for the most important information


Satisfying the consumer through a good mobile experience will translate into growing your digital network and make your brand more robust. Google is taking into consideration your mobile presence more and more within its algorithm and if you’re not paying attention to mobile you will be penalized in the search rankings.

Digital Marketing Trends

As a business owner or marketing director, here’s where you ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” Traffic, baby! It takes a variety of tactics to reach your target audience. The key benefits of digital media are targetability and measurability. And because of this, there is a fine line between annoying your customer and totally relating to them.

As a consumer I want:

  • Ads that are relevant to me.
  • Ads that don’t hinder my ability to get the content I’m interested in.
  • To be entertained.
  • Short, sweet and to the point. I have a life, ya know?!


Consider these wants no matter the type of digital marketing you engage in. Whether it’s email, display, search, video, social or mobile. It’s all the same, just a different platform and format.

Are You Speaking to the Consumer?

After reviewing these trends, do you feel you’re truly giving consumers what they want? Ask yourself:

  1. Am I happy with my website?
  2. Can I find my brand easily? Can my friends?
  3. Can I pull up my website on my mobile devices?
  4. Am I creating an engaging experience to increase time spent on my site?

If you’ve answered any of these with a no, it might be time to revisit your website and online marketing strategy.

This column ran in the March 3 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Listen and Learn

Corporate aviation exists because of its ability to deliver a vital, customized, personalized service. As aviation marketers, we’re always thinking how we can improve upon that value proposition. We try to learn from every aviation segment. Including commercial.

Consider Southwest Airlines. It excels in customer service. A big secret to its success: listening. Several of us from Greteman Group recently attended a joint meeting of the Wichita Aero Club and Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce. We’ve been mulling over key points made by the panel, which consisted of representatives from the Dallas-based, low-fare carrier. They were there to talk about upcoming schedule adjustments at Eisenhower National Airport. They were also there to hear firsthand what attendees thought about those changes.


Since 1971, Southwest has grown from 195 employees and a three-city service area (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) to close to 50,000 employees and

Dave Harvey
Dave Harvey 

service to 97 U.S. and 12 international cities. 2015 was a record year, transporting 118 million customers, achieving 43 years of profitability, and ranking seventh on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s most admired companies.

Dave Harvey, Southwest’s managing director of business development, stressed that the airline’s customer-centered thinking drives its success. Being open and honest in all interactions. Looking at the fare as more than the ticket price, but the full customer experience.

“We’re the airline of no’s, said Harvey, about Southwest’s culture of not nickel and diming extras. That translates to no fees for passengers’ first two checked bags. No change fees. No cancellation fees. No charges for in-flight snacks, beverages or smiles.

“We’ve got to work every day to earn your business and earn your trust,” Harvey said. “Every seat on Southwest Airlines is first class.”


Silke Koehnecke, Southwest’s managing director of business development
Silke Koehnecke

A state-of-the-art, round-the-clock listening center opened in 2014 at the Dallas headquarters. It integrates operational data and media, both social and traditional. Social media monitoring and interaction is becoming an increasingly important tool in customer service, helping the company listen to its customers, adjust and take action as needed, said Silke Koehnecke, national corporate relations manager for Southwest. Team members answer questions, share feedback and do all they can to enhance the customer experience.

Southwest has noticed and appreciates Wichita’s community spirit. “All walks of life in Wichita come together for air service, which helps us,” Harvey said.


Southwest provides an excellent example of the rewards of listening to learn about your customers’ pain points – and to ease them where you can. If you haven’t been listening as closely as you ought, start. The conversation may surprise you.

Dave Franson Wichita Aero Club President
Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson said the low-fare carrier is so vital to the Air Capital, the club could have been named, “How do we get Southwest Airlines to come to Wichita” Club.

Panel image featured at top provided by Visual Media Group.

This column ran in the March 3 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.

Eisenhower National Airport Selects Greteman Group as Agency of Record

Today, the Wichita City Council unanimously voted (7-0) to approve Greteman Group as marketing agency of record for the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. The agency was one of five who responded to the airport’s request for proposal. The one-year contract includes up to four one-year extensions.

Greteman Group will be responsible for strategic planning, website management, social media, digital marketing and contest management. It will provide design and copywriting creative for all digital, broadcast, outdoor and print media. Copp Media Services will provide media-buying support.

“Our airport does more than offer a memorable, iconic front door to the Air Capital,” says Sonia Greteman, agency principal. “It serves as an engine of economic development and ongoing vitality. We take our role as marketing partner very seriously – even though it will be a joy to work with the airport team.”

Early last summer Eisenhower National Airport opened a grand, aviation-themed terminal and an adjacent parking garage. It also changed its name from Mid-Continent Airport. The airport, code ICT, stays the same. The airport offers daily flights on five airlines across the country. Those include Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest Airlines and United.

While the new airport terminal was in the planning stages, Greteman Group was retained as project consultant for public art and exhibits. Special aviation-themed exhibits designed by the agency serve as an integral element in the terminal design. Juxtaposed with the history display, a striking football-field-sized public art installation, selected by Greteman Group, arches from one end of the terminal to the other, creating a spectacular abstract vision of flight.

“Good things are happening at Eisenhower National Airport,” says Victor White, airport director. “We are excited and have every confidence in Greteman Group’s ability to help us tell that compelling story.”

IMAGERY Images can be downloaded from