The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) says the first-of-its-kind Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) exceeded expectations for bringing people together in a busy digital marketplace, setting the stage for major announcements, presenting inspiring speakers and providing access to the best thinkers for innovating during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
“VBACE demonstrated that our industry is relentless in the face of formidable challenges. We are stronger together, and we are always moving forward,” says NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Clearly, VBACE was more than just a connection opportunity: it was a new kind of industry catalyst.”
Bolen pointed to several examples as illustrative of the event's success. The 3D VBACE exhibit floor featured OEMs, fuel providers, flight and mission planners, avionics firms and other leading companies. Many exhibitors deftly leveraged the VBACE platform for headline-driving announcements, which were thoroughly covered by news organisations. Several thousand attendees were part of the event, including those active in aircraft type clubs, maintenance firms, safety-advocacy groups, regional business aviation associations, groups focused on diversity and inclusion, sustainability stakeholders and other aviation-based organisations. Show-goers gave high marks for the new capabilities offered as part of the event, including virtual, bottomless backpacks; as another first, all attendees will have access to recorded VBACE content until December 31.
Both VBACE show days included inspiring keynote speakers. The event's first day featured multi-platinum songwriter and pilot Dierks Bentley, whose wide-ranging conversation with Bolen underscored his dedication to serving as an advocacy champion for business aviation. The show's second day included a compelling conversation between Bolen and The New York Times best-selling author Erin Meyer, highlighting lessons people and companies in business aviation can learn from the highly innovative culture at media company Netflix. Dedicated VBACE chat rooms and coffee chats invited a new kind of peer-to-peer engagement, with hundreds of industry professionals sharing perspectives through energised, online exchanges.
VBACE education sessions and new thought leadership sessions were a big draw, providing access to innovators in the fields of safety, sustainability, technological innovation, ever-changing international requirements, strategies for promoting workforce diversity and more. Dedicated sessions also provided timely content for new market entrants, with their focus on chartering tips, aircraft-ownership tax benefits and the basics on jet card, fractional and membership-based utilisation options, and buying a business aircraft. Dedicated professional member happy hours drew hundreds of registrants to mingle and be entertained by celebrity guest Dave Coulier, pilot, comedian and actor from TVs Full House; and performances by Grammy award-winning songwriter of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ Jim Peterik of The Ides of March, formerly of Survivor and Cathy Richardson, lead singer of Jefferson Starship.
“NBAA is energised by the excitement and enthusiasm for the new ways VBACE provided for doing business, building relationships, bettering ourselves as professionals and working together to chart a course for the future,” Bolen concludes. “Our thanks to everyone who was a part of this groundbreaking event.”
With the conclusion of VBACE, NBAA reaffirmed its commitment to two new virtual events in early 2021, announced last month: NBAA GO Flight Operations Conference from 23-25 February, and the NBAA GO Leadership Summit on 24 and 25 March.