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The Inside Scoop on NBAA- Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition

Are you considering exhibiting at or attending the National Business Aviation Association Show (NBAA BACE 2017) in October?   This show has been named one of the fastest 50 growing shows by net square feet of Exhibit Space. TSNN ranked it as the 4th largest show in the US in 2016 as based on square footage. But there is more to this show than size. This show has been around since 1947 and has grown to be the world’s largest business aviation event. The 27,000 attendees include business aviation professionals such as executives, operators, auditors, flight personnel, educators, who are influencers and buyers in the industry.

NBAA BACE is organized by the National Business Aviation Association, who in addition to trying to promote the value of Business Aviation, strives to support training and the growth of this industry. In fact, if you are a student or job seeker interested in the industry there are a number of resources available to help you via this association including on-demand courses, networking opportunities, and even scholarships.

If you are curious about what is trending at a show of this caliber, read on.


What to Expect

You can exhibit in an exhibit hall, an indoor static display featuring airplanes and mockups, or even outdoors at the Henderson Executive Airport where there is room for over 100 airplanes or a combination of all three locations.   There is also tent space available within the static display areas.

Image credit- AJ DeVoe, Twitter
  • This is an international show – 96 countries are represented from all continents.
  • You can check out photos of last year’s show on their website under their photos.
  • This is a sophisticated show in terms of the quality of exhibits and high-end materials used.
  • There is a significant number of double decks used for VIP level meetings.
  • There is a significant amount of rigging for sophisticated hanging signs, structures, and high-end AV and specialty lighting.
  • Exhibitors include some of the best-known names in aviation such as Honda Jet, Gulf Stream, Bombardier, and JeteX.
  • Many of the exhibits are very large islands and some will have airplanes or components inside the exhibit.
  • VR is huge and you can imagine why, as it lends itself to the products and services offered.
  • VIP spaces are also big as buyers at this show typically have big budgets and the opportunities to forge relationships with them are limited.
  • Spaces in which to offer visitors a drink and engage in conversation are important.


Jeppesen was offering free wine samples. Image credit- @FlyWithJepp, Twitter


Image credit- Air Culinaire

Check out another hospitality example from Air Culinaire

  • Gulfstream has had a full-scale restaurant in their exhibit space which included a wait staff for two years in a row.
  • Bombardier even used smart lighting to highlight the planters they used in a very high-end private space.
  • That said there are smaller spaces including 10×10 packages offered as well.


What Can You Do To Stand Out

Trying to compete on height or use of AV will be difficult amongst this crowd, so you must be creative.  That said if you are on an island or want to compete in the top tier of exhibits, rigging is almost necessary and you need to be prepared for the associated costs, which can be substantial.

  • There is a special program & centrally located pavilion available for first-time exhibitors.
  • Create a unique promotion to send out before the show or a photo op to draw visitors in.

  • Offer a unique higher-end giveaway to key members of your target market.
  • Focus on an interactive activity that can appeal to your clients. Many exhibitors are turning to technology for this function and there are many technology tools now widely used in the trade show setting, like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Digital Gamification. However, “low-tech” solutions can work just as well if properly aligned with your key message.   As an example, one company, Jet Professionals, hired ping pong pros that show attendees could test their skills against.  They had an emcee narrating the highlights of the game and sharing some of the key value propositions of the exhibitor’s offerings.  It worked and stood out because it was very different from everything around it.  Also, it was very relevant at the time as Forbes reported that it had become a trending sport among hipsters and wealthy.
Image credit- @JPStaffing, Twitter
  • You can also completely go counter culture and have an exhibit that uses unique colors or materials that contrast with the ones typically used at the show. In other words, stay away from blue, white and gray.


Rules to Be Aware of If You Plan to Exhibit

Check out the show book before you make any plans.  The exhibiting sales brochure only gives you a brief overview.  However below are some interesting tips to know.

  • There is a dress code for this show. Attendees and exhibitors are expected to dress in business casual attire at a minimum.
  • All prize drawings must be approved by the show using the online portal.
  • All multilevel and covered exhibits need to provide scaled floor plans.
  • Booth height limits and perimeter rules changed in 2016 so double check booth rule requirements for 2017.

In 2015, Skyline client XJET maximized their budget for their 30’x30’ island space by utilizing custom rental.   This was their 1st time exhibiting at NBAA EBACE and they wanted to make a splash.  By using a custom rental solution, they had more budget available to add the high-end finishes and other touches that helped position them properly with their target audience.

In 2016 they shifted to a 20’ x 20’ island exhibit but were able to reuse all of their graphics from the previous year’s exhibit, once again helping control exhibiting costs.

Other NBAA Events to Consider

There are several other events offered by NBAA that you should consider attending.

  • The National Business Aviation Association hosts regional events in Europe, Asia and even regionally on the East coast and in 2018 in some locations in the southern US.
  • There is an NBAA Flight Attendants and Flight Technicians conference happening in June of 2017.


Whether you are in the business aviation industry or not this event provides inspiration on how to truly build an experience for your customers.   Creating a branded space and complimentary activities that embody your brand image and provide an opportunity to begin or nurture a business relationship by showcasing the products or services you offer.    Let us know if you are planning to attend or end up attending the show and what was your favorite exhibit or activity at the show.




Booth Staffing Tips & Tools for the Digital Era Reference Guide

Trade shows have been a consistent resource for generating leads and connecting with customers for many years. It’s one of the only ways to gain face-to-face access in one convenient location to a large proportion of your target clients.

This reference guide will provide insight into the changes in trade show booth staffing, what’s causing the shift, and how to best prepare your team. Your staffers – by engaging, qualifying and capturing potential customers – represent your best opportuntity for success on the trade show floor.

About the Author

Philip Foust was the VP of Growth & Development for Skyline-Holt Exhibits + Events.

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