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Next year's Heli Expo delegates are ‘ready to do business’
Some hotels in New Orleans are already sold out as the industry prepares for Heli-Expo. The show's organisers are very confident that the event will be able to go ahead by the time it rolls around in late March.

Helicopter Association International's Heli-Expo 2021 in New Orleans is seven months away, and preparations are well under way. The first stage of the show floor lottery closed in July, and over 300 companies, including most of the major OEMs, have already booked more than two-thirds of the available show floor. Housing for the show just opened this week, and over 10,000 room nights were secured the first day. Some hotels have already sold out.

“We fully expect to be able to hold HAI Heli-Expo 2021 in New Orleans,” says James Viola, HAI president and CEO. "Our early numbers tell me there is an entire industry that is eager to come out of quarantine and get together to do business. We know people are concerned; it's our job to manage the risk for attendees and exhibitors and ensure their safety during their visit with us, just as our members do for their customers.”

New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the site of HAI Heli-Expo 2021, has already been preparing to host in-person meetings safely. It recently became one of the first event sites to be accredited under the Global BioRisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR programme as meeting the industry's highest standards for cleaning and disinfection of infectious agents. “This means that cleaning is an ongoing priority for the convention centre management, and their staff has been trained and equipped to do the job properly,” Viola continues. “The HAI staff is also working with convention centre staff to add additional cleaning time between sessions.”

HAI staff and New Orleans and Company, the city's tourism bureau, recently led a site visit for exhibitors, touring both in person and virtually the convention centre, hotels in the housing bloc and potential event spaces. The HAI operations department surveyed the convention centre landing zone and then flew the route from the staging area at New Orleans Lakefront Airport to the landing zone.

Over 50 helicopters and more than 600 companies routinely fill the show floor at HAI Heli-Expo. Additionally, there are over 100 industry meetings of all kinds: technical briefings, professional education classes, safety education sessions, forums and workshops. “From networking to training, from gumbo to beignets, there will be something at this show for everyone,” says Viola. “We're expecting great things from New Orleans. This is an area that knows and loves us: helicopters are important to its economy, and it hasn't forgotten that helicopters saved hundreds of lives following Hurricane Katrina. They like hearing the rotors turn down there, and we'll bring one of the largest fleets into the city since then.”

The dates for HAI Heli-Expo 2021 are 22-25 March, with the exhibit floor open to attendees from 23-25. Registration opens on 27 October.

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