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What role did new technologies play in the success of the YQB 2018 communications strategy?

13 apr

Passenger Terminal Expo - Mathieu Claise

The Passenger Terminal Expo conference, which took place on March 20 to 22, 2018, brought together several hundred representatives from the worldwide transportation industry. The communications division of Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) was asked to explain how it used new technologies to promote the biggest-ever expansion in the airport’s history and to rally the community around this major construction project.

A four-point overview of the talk given by YQB’s director of communications and public relations, Mathieu Claise.


Q.1. Why did you rely on new technologies to publicize the YQB 2018 project?

Based on our theme Passenger First®, we decided to build new, world-class infrastructures to deal with the expected growth in air traffic and meet the needs of local and visiting passengers. It was crucial to identify the best communications tools to use to reach out to people in the Greater Quebec City area and the roughly 1.7 million passengers who pass through YQB each year. In this way, we could keep them up to speed with progress of work and the new features that would have a direct impact on them.

At YQB, we have a strong digital culture, and we know that a large proportion of our passengers use new technologies on a regular basis to get information and entertainment. As a result, it seemed natural to focus on a strategy in which digital approaches had pride of place.


Q.2. What are the main digital communications tools you established?

  1. A meeting place on the Web that provided an overview of the project

From the start of the project, and even before the first excavation work took place, we made sure that the website, devoted entirely to the project, was up and running. It still provides information to web users about upcoming work, along with pictures of the construction site from 2015 to 2017, a real-time view of the worksite using Web cameras, a virtual tour, and so on. Since 2015, over 50,000 people have visited the site, which is an outstanding score for a market the size of ours.


  1. Worksite videos: realtime views, frame by frame or in a time-lapse projection

The airport and construction site are not readily accessible, and so we gave Web users another kind of access by broadcasting regular images of the work under way. There’s nothing like a picture to illustrate the size of the work site and the speed at which changes take place. Several kinds of images were presented, and this gave stakeholders and the general community a chance to take ownership of the project.

We asked professional photographers and videographers to produce the images and highlight the key stages of the project. Videos recapitulating the work completed, broadcast every year, were seen by over 100,000 people and shared hundreds of times on social media. These scores demonstrate how interested the population was in the airport project.


  1. The virtual tour of the future terminal—like being there!

Last, we wanted to make sure that people could get to know the new terminal before it actually opened. Using 3D models, we created the virtual reality platform, which offers a virtual tour of the new infrastructures. Section by section, Web users could discover the new terminal as it would appear once work was completed.


In addition to the success of the Web platform, we also went out to meet with the local population. During the fall of 2017, the “YQB 2018 squad” toured various public venues in the local area. Our ambassadors were trained to offer Quebec residents an immersive experience and also to answer their questions. All the participants were eligible to win travel credit for a trip from YQB, and this was a big incentive.


Q.3. What role did social media play in your strategy?

Social media played an absolutely crucial role, and were our main channel of communication. The platforms we used allowed us to engage in discussions with our passengers and also to become part of their daily lives. Many of our passengers travel once a year on average, and we could use social media to stay in contact with them and inform them about the current state of the airport and the progress of work.

We were careful to create value-added content and to involve the public. For example, on December 11, 2017, using Facebook Live, Web users could enter the new terminal alongside the very first passengers and experience this historic moment for themselves.

Facebook Live – Opening of the new international terminal

Q.4. What do you think was the secret of your success?

Adaptability. Obviously, we already had a strong communications plan in place in 2015, but we left ourselves room to seize new opportunities and take advantage of new technologies. For example, we were able to incorporate virtual reality, which evolved rapidly. In addition, we were able to adapt to new situations and ensure that our communications were always “up to date”.

The YQB 2018 project will, in fact, continue until 2019 and we will continue to apply best practices in the field of information technology and use them to meet our passengers’ need for information.


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