Hamilton airport jettisons outdated Web site

Canada’s largest courier airport has upgraded its Web site to keep up with requests for information as its volume of passengers increasess.

The John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport will be officially announcing

the site, which is already live, on Monday. It is the first time the airport has revamped its portal since 1996. Originally built in static HTML and using frames to keep content in place, the organization chose Burlington, Ont.-based iUpload’s Application Suite to extend content management to its marketing staff.

Michael Cole, the airport’s IT manager, said he was brought on board last year to review the old site and come up with something that reflected the organization’s growth and development. John C. Munro is one of Canada’s fastest-growing airports — air cargo has increased 50 per cent in the last five years — but the site was becoming inconsistent, he said.

“”Like anything else, if it’s difficult to edit, it doesn’t get updated,”” he said. “”There was a lot of dated information, and I didn’t want to be the editor. You’ve got to disperse that.””

Along with passenger services, job listings, airport names and addresses, the redesigned site includes a permission-based e-mail newsletter for flight information. Cole said that return on investment wasn’t as big a priority for this project; the site is seen more as a value-added service to customers than a profit centre.

“”Arrivals, departures — people expect that,”” he said. “”They would expect to go to any airport on the Web and see if their husband’s plane is on time.””

Dave Carter, iUpload’s vice-president of strategy, said it was critical for the airport to create a site that maintained the integrity of the organization’s brand.

“”They used to be sort of this sleepy airport in Hamilton,”” he said. “”Now it’s Hamilton International Airport and they’ve done all this marketing. I think the Web’s just another aspect of that.””

Ease of use was an important factor in selecting the software, Cole said, given that the IT department wanted to give up responsibilities for updating the site.

“”Five or six years ago, anytime you wanted to change anything you needed a product like (Microsoft) FrontPage, some Web author, and FTP access. You had to understand the nuts and bolts of a Web site,”” he said. “”This is just giving a person a URL, a login, show them how to do the editing and it’s simple.””

Carter said the airport is among many businesses that have realized sites with only basic contact information provide little value to customers.

“”Who’s going to go to the Hamilton Airport site by accident because they’re not sure what airport to use?”” he said. “”They know they need an airport in either Hamilton or Toronto, and they’re going to check them both out to see if they have the flights they want.””

Though nothing is in the works yet, Cole said he was looking at other airport sites that offer more detail on expansion plans, including Webcams allowing visitors to virtually tour the facilities.

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