Welcome to Port Elizabeth International Airport

As marketers, we agonize over our marketing strategy and our consumer promise, committed to finding the perfect solution. We  fall in love with our products and services, their potential and the value they can add to our target market.   We craft a message and shout it out loudly, to reach our target market and convince them we’re a perfect fit.

But sometimes the message just isn’t credible.   Sometimes we are guilty of over-claiming. And when we do, we highlight our shortcomings.

I happened to visit Port Elizabeth a couple of weeks ago.  Now I’m not entirely unfamiliar with PE, having family there, but this is the first time I noticed that this town boasts an international airport.

PE Internaional airport 2I use the word boasts deliberately, as I’m pretty sure they don’t actually have one.  It’s hard enough to get a flight from Durban to PE so I’m not convinced that tourists from London, Los Angeles or Lagos are flitting in and out of PE on direct flights.

I asked a couple of locals which sparked some debate – apparently Tiger Woods once flew his private jet into PE.  Or maybe he didn’t – there wasn’t consensus. There was also the suggestion that John Travolta flew his in too.  But then again, maybe not.  Either way, giving the local airport the rather grandiose title of Port Elizabeth International Airport and placing a sign above the door to the arrivals hall isn’t going to make me believe it.

I’m guessing we’re all guilty of over-claiming to a lesser or greater degree.  It might be wishful thinking or we might simply neglect to remove mention of discontinued products or services from our marketing collateral.  We might aim to look bigger and better than we are by focusing on more we really can lay claim to.

PE airport has a definite charm.  It’s easy to get to, parking is simple and the queues aren’t hectic.  As airports go, it’s quiet and peaceful. But it’s a sore disappointment as an international airport.

Are your claims of broad expertise credible?  Or should you be focusing on your core strengths and a clear single-minded message.  I think it might be time to update my website!



  1. Rosh on September 8, 2014 at 13:01

    i dunno how i found this, but it is an interesting debate, one i have had before with peers, however by definition we found the answer was simple:

    An international airport is an airport that offers a customs and immigration facility for passengers arriving from other countries. Although PE has no scheduled international airline flights, it does have customs and immigration facilities serving charter, cargo and general aviation flights, available at advance notice (it has a international arrivals wing). Tiger may have used this, John Travolta definitely has, there are several news articles supporting his arrivals. I’m sure during the FIFA period the terminal facilitated several international flights. Flights to Durban however still remain limited….:)

    Im sure there is a future intent on the airport achieving some form of regular arrival/departure of international flights.

  2. Geoff Feldon on April 13, 2014 at 16:36

    This is a very valid point Ann and although we see it all the time you ask a valid question. Am I guilty of over-claiming? Worth thinking about.

  3. Pat Pughe-Parry (@trishpp) on April 11, 2014 at 17:46

    Maybe it dates back to the days of the independent homelands. We lived in the Bathurst and PE for a couple of years and I did like the airport as it was clean and quiet. No queues. International? Nope!

    You are right about removing products and services from our websites and marketing material because every now and again we do get caught out. Also when prices change we end up with red faces.

    • Ann Druce on April 11, 2014 at 17:50

      I actually looked to see if there were flights to Umtata, on the basis that it was once considered to be in a foreign country, but I couldn’t find any of those either,even when I spelt it Mthatha!

      But yes, it’s all too easy to fail to move on when our businesses evolve.

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