Exhibitors for the Abu Dhabi Air Expo got a shocking notification today. The show, planned for Feb. 8-10, has been pushed back. A year. The reason? Refurbishments underway at Al Bateen Executive Airport.

I wouldn’t want to be the expo’s event-planning team for anything. Think of all the exhibitor costs incurred and plans already in place – the booth signage, invites, press releases, presentations and more. Organizers say the event in February 2016 will be an even bigger show with upgraded facilities. Those enhancements include a new terminal under construction, enhancements to the existing VIP and Sheikh Zayed terminals, plus upgrades to the taxiway and airfield.

The Latest and Greatest

It’s a region undergoing tremendous change. Everywhere you look, you see state-of-the-art technology and services. Last month, CNN opened its first branded airport café in the Etihad Airways Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Travelers can view CNN high-definition broadcasts and tap into free Wi-Fi as they wait for flights. As one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation hubs, in 2014 Abu Dhabi International saw a 20.5% increase in traffic with 16.5 million passengers.

A Capital City

Abu Dhabi’s stature as capital of both the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi emirate makes it a metropolitan powerbroker. Its reserves of oil and natural gas – 9% and 5% of the world’s known resources respectively – help make Abu Dhabi the UAE’s wealthiest emirate.

This thoroughly modern city increasingly relies on aviation. If you’re selling aircraft or aviation services in this region, you won’t get to attend the Expo come February 8 as planned, so you’ll have to find other face-to-face opportunities – or create your own.

No Substitutes for Face to Face

It’s not hard to target your marketing given how small the Middle East’s rapidly growing aviation market is. It does, however, take thought, time and perseverance.

This region’s clearly identified players want to know who you are, what you can do for them, and if you’ll be around tomorrow. Keep your messaging simple, direct and benefit focused. What do you uniquely bring to this market? How do you plan to deliver? Make the most of one-on-one meetings with materials that reinforce your key points and serve as a memory-jogging leave-behind.

Credibility. Trust. Honesty. These are not good-to-have marketing traits in Abu Dhabi. They are must-haves. Here, relationships and reputation reign supreme. Remember you’re not just selling a product or service. You’re selling yourself.

Featured at top: This year’s show would have been the fourth-consecutive international aviation exhibition at Al Bateen Executive Airport in the United Arab Emirates capital city. It was to have featured a large static display of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters serving the business community. It was also going to introduce a dedicated area for airport suppliers, avionics and aircraft engines. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in 2016. Photo credit: Abu Dhabi Air Expo