Changing the name of the airport to the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport was a major step in re-branding the airport and helping showcase the all-new and refreshed airport that welcomes so many visitors who come to Little Rock for the Clinton Presidential Library. A major dedication ceremony featuring the Clintons and the unveiling of the renovations was planned.
We were tasked with ensuring the event went off without a hitch, including writing speeches and talking points for not only the Clintons, but also several key public officials (Gov. Mike Beebe, Sen. Mark Pryor and others), airport staff and Commissioners. We also were in charge of ensuring the media were taken care of with plenty of background information, camera angles and interview opportunities. And because we were hosting a former president and current secretary of state (who was also highly sought after for commentary on whether she was running for president in 2016), extra precautions were in order.
The Clinton Dedication event was a huge success. Airport officials were thrilled, and the Clintons spoke highly of how smoothly the event ran. Media coverage was off the charts (every major national outlet covered the event). Interest was extremely high in that it wasn’t often both Bill and Hillary were able to make their schedules work to be at the same event and both made interesting and rare comments during the event about what the airport had meant to them growing up in Arkansas and while on the campaign trail back in the ‘90s.
Most importantly, the event helped remind people of the airport’s new upgrades. Revenue increased 21.7 percent the following year, and a passenger satisfaction survey completed six months after the event found 81 percent of departing passengers and 84 percent of arriving passengers were satisfied with their airport experience.