Aviation gets the value of face-to-face interaction. We wouldn’t build and fly planes if we didn’t believe in the power of looking someone in the eye and cementing a deal with a handshake. So naturally, our industry lives, eats and breathes events. The number, intensity and value of tradeshows each year constantly increases. In addition to the major shows, regional and private events populate the calendar year-round. You may even be one of the 100,000 visitors walking the grounds of Farnborough 2016 as I write this.

Recent one-off events we’ve participated in have spurred lots of conversation at our agency about when it’s good to stand out and do your own thing – and when it’s best to dovetail your outreach with others. Here are a few points, if followed, that will have you giving each other a high five after each and every event you choose to be part of.

Evaluate your true value proposition before doing your own thing.

It seems like everyone you talk with comments about how busy they are. They don’t have time. Their schedules are booked. Never forget that your event is vying for their valuable, hard-to-give-up time. What makes your event compelling enough for your target attendees to give up something else on their schedules or simply from enjoying some coveted, and needed downtime? Be sure you can answer that question fully and honestly before embarking down the resource-intensive path of hosting your own event.

Expect the unexpected and consider how you might fare.

While you may have the best-laid plan for an engaging, sure-to-be-great, first-of-its-kind event, stuff happens. Things come up that can keep prospects away. A pressing meeting. Bad weather. Family obligations. Without a strong history of past return on investment, they will be far less inclined to go out of their way to attend an event that your company puts on exclusively. There’s power in the pack. Go out as a lone wolf and you’re liable to find yourself howling at the moon. Which doesn’t do much to achieve your goal of increased visibility.

Attend and sponsor recurring events with built-in audiences.

When you attend NBAA or the Aviation Week MRO events on a regular basis, you start to see the same faces and hear the same names. You recognize people and they get to know you, too. With this familiarity comes the ability to build trust and a reputation as someone in the thick of things. Quick conversations can lead generate leads, build contacts and deepen relationships you can tap into throughout the year. Take advantage of event sponsorships that allow you to build brand recognition and loyalty – without going it alone.


Tack on your small event at the front end of a larger industry affair.

The highly successful JETNET iQ Global Business Aviation Summit makes it easy for folks. It hosts its own event, but ties it to a well-established, highly attended event. It announced well in advance that it will be held in New York City, September 13-14. That’s the two days leading up to the September 15 NBAA White Plains Regional Forum. Many of those who go to the conference are already planning to attend or exhibit at the forum. It’s a natural progression and provides top-of-the-line networking for those attending both events. Rather than getting stuck on hosting the conference at the same time each year, JETNET iQ stays nimble. It adjusts based on the NBAA events calendar, providing maximum benefit for all.

To thine own self be true.

Don’t let my comments dissuade you from a great idea you’ve been kicking around. I’m simply urging caution whether you’re considering putting on your own industry forum, bringing in key prospects for a unique static display, or throwing a shindig to introduce shareholders to a new member of management. It can be done. But could you be even more successful by parlaying your resources into a bigger, surer bet? Think about where you can join in where similar target audiences gather. Where everyone wins.  


This column ran in the July 14 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.