Missing NBAA, Oshkosh, Heli-Expo or other Flagship Industry Trade Shows

Missing flagship industry trade shows this year? Like NBAA, Oshkosh, Heli-Expo or other flagship industry trade shows. Is this a concern, a non-event, a mixed blessing?

Attending industry conference and walking the exhibition floors of trade shows is one of the best ways to keep updated on what’s going on in our industry. There is always a company with a new product or service that has not been well marketed but has great potential to our operations and businesses.

Some companies are exhibiting futuristic designs for where they envision the industry is headed. Some are destined to fail, others destined for market dominance.

Face to face meetings with suppliers and clients, along with networking with other aviation professionals can be invaluable. Add in the social aspects, as an attendee it’s usually a worthwhile event and a great perk for company employees.

RMA Team 2019 at NBAA trade show
RMA Team at NBAA 2019

For exhibiters however trade shows may be expensive, disruptive and hard to quantify in value. Some exhibitors I have spoken with at these events confess that the only reason they still attend is the fear that if they don’t their clients may see it as a sign of financial difficulty. Others have quipped that the only people who benefit from these events are the organizers and the local nightlife.

With virtual conferences now being the only events for the foreseeable future, seminars and training classes have moved online. For the tradeshow portion of these events, can exhibitors create engaging digital experiences that will overcome “Zoom fatigue”? If they do, can anything really replace the tactile experience of a live event?

No one can see into the future with certainty, but many will speculate, what does the future hold for the trade show industry? The pandemic – or at least governments reaction to it – has forced people to change their behaviors.

We’re primarily social animals, and we’ve been locked down, prevented from doing business as usual and prevented from socializing or having normal face to face interactions for many months now. With various vaccines now proving their efficacy, in twelve months we could be back to pre-pandemic behaviour.

Will trade shows come roaring back? If a company has spent hundreds of thousands on a virtual trade show presence, will they be willing to abandon the investment and return to the status quo? Will there be a blend of virtual and on-site?

Just a prediction, cabin fever is a powerful emotion, book early for 2022.