EBACE; The financial, reputation and educational pros/cons - comment by Volanteus CEO
The Annual EBACE Event of 2019 was the first time I've been dissapointed at the show
The first time I've really ever had to make that statement, but the exorbitant costs these days make it partially prohibitive, not only for the exhibitors where they're charging unbelievable prices for having a stand to sell your wares, but also the attendees… hotels at crazy costs, €10 for a cappuccino from a push-button machine and as for Java Club's "mortgage bottles" of booze – the less said (and drunk) the better.
It's all well and good if you're a billionaire attending the show, pen-poised ready to sign the LOI on your Falcon 8X, but for the normal people, the normal companies and some of the private jet companies, large and small, with their margins squeezed, it makes it an actual decision to make whether you can afford to send all/any of your staff... how much money do you have to earn from exhibiting or attending to actually recoup the outlay on expenditure, ultimately that is the conundrum.
Incidentally, being the aforementioned billionaire might be the only way that Dassault will actually allow you on board their aircraft; for the past 15 years I've attended EBACE, pretty much every Dassault aircraft on the static has greeted me with a "non monsieur, it is closed for private meeting" so why bother having them on display ??… now even Cessna and Embraer were making hard work to even see their new products this year.
Ironically, Gulfstream and Bombardier, arguably "top of the shop" in terms of quality of executive jet were very welcoming, they have the foresight to realise that charter brokers are an integral part of their sales team. I am very (very) unlikely to have the wealth to buy a $70m aircraft, but my charter clients have… no one goes from flying commercial airlines to buying an aircraft, they charter beforehand and it is the broker that offers the clients a choice, a try-before-you-buy if you like, maybe some of the manufacturers might want to consider this rather than arrogantly having the "big contract signing" on board at EBACE, when thousands of people have spent around €300-€500 per ticket just to attend the show and see these planes.
While on my moaning soapbox; it baffles me why EBAA cannot move this show around Europe, the same way NBAA handle it. It would make the cities work hard to provide an excellent show… it works in the states, each city with it's own regional culture, whether it be the laid back Californian style, the Florida vibe, the Texan welcome or any other host city/state, each region has its own flavour and people appreciate it. The former argument for Geneva was "it's a conference centre with an airport on site", well now even to get to the static apron it's a 10 minute bus ride from Palexpo. Almost every major city in Europe has a conference centre which is a 10 mins ride from the airport and let's face it, the Swiss economy isn't in desperate need of the money generated, whereas other European counties would actually benefit from tens-of-thousands delegates spending their hard earned Euros in their city on hotels, dinners, entertainment and of course the conference itself… the other cities might even appreciate it and show people they appreciate it, rather than forcing people into the average of €400 per night for a 3-star hotel and upwards of €700 per night for something a bit nicer.
On that note, this year's EBACE was decidedly quieter than any I can recall in the past 10 years or so and seemed like there were less exhibitors and less attendees, there were notable absentees like LuxAviation and others, this along with an overall escalating cost of around €2,000 per staff member (flights, ticket, hotel and expenses) and the lack of educational opportunities to get my new staff on board the aircraft at the static display, makes me wonder if it's worthwhile next year; and speaking to other brokers and airlines, they're in general agreement.
To finish positively, I was so proud of my team, the way they represented the Volanteus brand warmed my heart, fellow industry friends and associates, actually taking the time to comment about how charming, polite and decent my whole team were, well done guys and girls, I'm proud to call you my colleagues. While our financial rock Lynne took care of all things fiscal, it allowed the opportunity for the sales/charter team to come together in one happy place - surrounded by pretty aircraft
We certainly saw some pretty embarrassing sites in Java and other late bars, where I witnessed some of the younger members of the industry behaving so undignified; some of the boys looked like they were on a stag-party with free booze available and some of the girls behaving like hookers not brokers, grinding themselves provocatively against the buyers and sellers of charter – I'm just saying that we should all realise this is an amazing industry; so respect yourself, respect your company, respect the industry and your clients and peers will respect you.
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