FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Recognizing that small businesses create 75 percent of the net new jobs in the U.S. economy, American Airlines and its small business mentoring partner, SCORE, announced the Grand Prize winner of its "Flights.Camera.Action" contest Sept. 15 at the 2011 SCORE Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Hope Force International, from Brentwood, Tenn., was awarded more than 100,000 Business ExtrAA® points – enough for 50 domestic round-trip Plan AAhead award Economy Class tickets. The winner will be featured on American Airlines inflight television, a full-page ad in one issue of American Way® or Nexos® magazine, banners on AA.com, and more. The addition of the grand prize brings the total number of BusinessExtrAA points awarded to the equivalent of more than 350 domestic round-trip PlanAAhead® award Economy Class tickets.
Hope Force International is a not-for-profit that mobilizes thousands of volunteers into areas of crisis around the world. It was chosen through a public vote for 50 semi-finalists from hundreds of videos entered, which represented a cross section of industries and geographic regions from around the United States. A panel of esteemed judges, including Leigh Buchanan, INC. editor-at-large; Kelley Cox, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive director of business development; Rieva Lesonsky, GrowBizMedia founder and chief executive officer; Virasb Vahidi, American's Chief Commercial Officer; and Ken Yancey, SCORE chief executive officer – selected Hope Force International for articulating the most compelling case for how travel and media exposure to American's customers could affect substantial growth for its company. To view the winning organization's video, visit www.aa.com/newsroom.
The travel industry estimates unmanaged air travel generated primarily from small and medium businesses at about $36 billion annually.(1) Recognizing the economic pressure on small businesses, American Airlines stepped up its long-standing commitment to those businesses in 2011. American partnered with organizations like SCORE, which helps small businesses succeed through mentoring and training, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and start-up incubators to provide critical travel resources to small businesses to help them grow and generate new jobs.
"The air travel and the media exposure we have received from the contest has been amazing and has opened doors for growth of our business," said Jack Minton, president and chief executive officer of Hope Force International. "We've already received positive interest and heightened awareness as a result of the media exposure to date, and the flight awards will assist us in reaching out to more people in need."
Anecdotal Early Results
Although there was just one grand prize winner, many participants have already reported benefitting from this experience. One small business in Texas said it is now in the final stages of negotiating a large contract with a new customer as a result of the media exposure gained through the contest. A California business said it experienced significantly increased engagement from its Facebook community and gained incremental revenue, while another was able to gain local TV coverage when it made it to the top 50 semi-finalist list, resulting in increased brand awareness. In Florida, a participant said it experienced significantly more traffic to its website and gained increased brand awareness in the local community, as well as within the medical community across the nation. This comes just before a major expansion for the organization. Other participating businesses said they gained media exposure when they were named to the contest's top 50 semi-finalist list and when they engaged social media to gain public votes.
"The combination of air travel from American and media exposure generated is already yielding some promising early results for these businesses, and we're very happy to be making a positive impact," said Karen Buls, American Airlines Director – Small and Medium Enterprise Loyalty. "We congratulate Hope Force International and are looking forward to seeing them aboard our flights as they continue to expand their reach."
"We know how critical resources for small businesses can be in any stage of their development," said Ken Yancey, SCORE's Chief Executive Officer. "The air travel awarded on American Airlines provides these businesses with the opportunity to build important relationships worldwide and the media exposure could result in new business – leading to growth and jobs."
Return on Investment for Business Travel
The return on investment for business travel and the importance of face-to-face relationships in driving new business are well-recognized and validated by research and survey results. Earlier this year, American conducted an online survey of more than 2,600 small and medium-sized business employees. Survey results indicated that approximately 64 percent of the employees surveyed believe face-to-face meetings requiring airline travel are crucial to the success of their business. Another 33 percent found it to be helpful.
Research findings prepared by Oxford Economics USA and published by the U.S. Travel Association in Sept. 2009 included these results:
- Executives and business travelers estimate that roughly 40 percent of their prospective customers are converted to new customers with an in-person meeting compared to 16 percent without such a meeting
- Approximately 28 percent of current business would be lost without in-person meetings
- The average business in the U.S. would forfeit 17 percent of its profits in the first year of eliminating business travel and it would take more than three years to regain those lost profits
- Companies generate $12.50 in incremental revenue for every dollar invested in business travel
To join American's conversation related to business travel and the importance of face-to-face relationships, visit American's Facebook community at www.facebook.com/aa or our LinkedIn community at www.linkedin.com/company/American-Airlines. Follow us on Twitter at @AmericanAir. For more information on American's suite of small business travel products, visit www.aa.com/business.
(1) Jupiter Research, Business Travel News, Travel Industry Association of America – May 2007
About American Airlines
American Airlines, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® carrier serve 250 cities in 50 countries with, on average, more than 3,600 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning website, AA.com®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve approximately 900 destinations with more than 9,000 daily flights to 145 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, AA.com, and AAdvantage are trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR).
About Business ExtrAA
Business ExtrAA is a program that rewards companies when their employees fly on American Airlines with points that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, Admirals Club memberships and conference rooms, and more. There is no cost to join, and while the company earns points, employees still earn their AAdvantage miles. For more details and to enroll, visit www.aa.com/business.
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SOURCE American Airlines