SALT LAKE CITY - It will be a kind of "credit union welcome mat" that greets the 110,000 visitors who come trouping through the Salt Lake City International Airport next February for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Relying on the notion that `first impressions count,' a CU coalition here, which holds...
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SALT LAKE CITY – It will be a kind of “credit union welcome mat” that greets the 110,000 visitors who come trouping through the Salt Lake City International Airport next February for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Relying on the notion that `first impressions count,’ a CU coalition here, which holds the franchise for 10 airport ATMs, is going all out with promotional ads and national messaging to remind the public that CUs operate the 16-month-old ATM system here. In particular, the traveling public-particularly CU members from across the nation vacationing in Salt Lake for the Games-will be reminded they can use ATMs here for free provided they are a member of the national CO-OP Network Corp. In letters addressed to CEOs sent out Aug. 23 from one member of the Utah CU coalition, Mountain America Credit Union, Salt Lake City, CUs were urged to alert their members in newsletters or other correspondence of the special convenience “of surcharge-free ATMs if they pass through the airport.” The letter noted that there will be “thousands of special airport visitors” during the Winter Olympics in February and the Para-Olympics in March, and thus “we suspect many will be credit union members who will see these ATMs as yet another benefit of membership in your credit union.” That should have particular appeal for members of airline CUs since “it will give those credit unions an opportunity to put their brand in front of flight crews passing through Salt Lake City,” said Brent Lawrence, senior vice president of Mountain America. It also underscores the CUs’ commitment to member service, he said, by “providing access away from home, something very important to airline credit unions.” While Mountain America was the prime mover in the successful April 2000 bid to the Salt Lake Airport Authority to replace banks in running the ATM concession, it was joined in the coalition by three airline CUs, American Airlines Employees Federal Credit Union, Dallas; Delta Employees Credit Union, Atlanta and Western Federal Credit Union, Los Angeles (CU Times, July 11.) Also in the coalition is CO-OP Network, headquartered in Ontario, Calif. The promotional message going out to CUs in the Network reminds members that with 10 “surcharge free ATMS throughout the airport, you’re sure to find ATM service quickly and easily” and get cash “for free.” The ATMs are stationed in each of the airport concourses and in a walkway between terminals. “So if you’re traveling to Utah, for this once in a lifetime event, or just for fun, look for a CO-OP ATM and get your cash as soon as you land,” said the promotional message. Lawrence said ceiling directional signs in the airport are expected to guide visitors to the ATMS. Apart from newsletter promotions, the Utah coalition is planning to run an ad in a Utah Winter special section of Sky Magazine, Delta Airlines’ in-flight publication and is “studying the idea of running ads in other in-flight magazines during the Games,” said Lawrence, who also is chief marketing officer of Mountain America. Traffic through the Salt Lake Airport is expected to be brisk starting in mid-November and through March when the Para-Olympics Games for the handicapped are conducted, said Lawrence. “We’ve been told by the airport people – and we hope it is so – that there will be higher numbers for the ski season starting in mid-November since many will want to try out Utah slopes in preparation for the Olympics,” said Lawrence. ATM transactions at the 10 machines have been steady ever since the Mountain America/airline CU coalition took it over “even though airport traffic is down 1%,” said Lawrence. Total transactions for the first 11 months of operation reached 260,126 with July showing 22,049, up from the 20,994 in May. The lowest month was February at 19,578. The Mountain America group bid to operate the ATM airport concession was hailed two years ago as a “model” for other CUs around the country to gain a “more visible presence” in public areas “where our members are” and to serve as a revenue producer. There have been scattered attempts by CUs elsewhere to get airport ATMs but often bank-led bureaucratic roadblocks like those in Chicago and in East Coast terminals have blocked CU expansion in this area, industry sources noted. -
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