NBAA Convention News

Finding NBAA Convention cities has its headaches

 - September 26, 2007, 3:10 PM

Why are all NBAA Conventions now on the East Coast? Why doesn’t NBAA use Las Vegas anymore? How about Chicago and Dallas?

In its effort to answer questions that members ask, NBAA held its second membership meeting yesterday here in Atlanta. Before the meeting, the association solicited questions from members, receiving about 300 responses. These were put into groups and NBAA staffers fielded the questions in their areas of expertise. Members who attended the meeting added more.

Usable venues for the convention generated the most discussion. Kathleen Blouin, senior vice president, conventions, seminars and forums, explained that the convention, which now requires one million square feet of hall space and a not-too-distant airport for a good-size static display, has simply grown too big for most locations. “It’s not NBAA’s intent to have the conventions only on the East Coast, but right now there are no alternatives elsewhere.” To somewhat compensate for this, she said, NBAA endeavors to hold its regional forums and various seminars on the West Coast as much as possible.

“There’s no perfect venue for the convention,” she explained. “All have good points and drawbacks.” The Georgia World Congress Center, for example, has good meeting space and although its exhibit floor space is a bit less than a million square feet, the way it is laid out actually allows for more and larger exhibits than Orlando. (She didn’t mention, however, the lone foot bridge between the B and C halls here, or that Orlando has Disney World.)

On paper, Las Vegas could accommodate the convention. Despite problems with the static display the last time the convention was held there in 2004, the association is reconsidering the city. “We know McCarran Airport will not be available to us,” Blouin said, “because it does not have enough space for the static display. Henderson, which was very dusty last time, has done some magnificent things to improve the site, but our needs are outpacing construction. As soon as this convention is over, I’m going to focus on Las Vegas to find out what needs to be done.”

The Dallas Convention Center is just too small for NBAA, said Blouin. Chicago’s center is large enough, but there isn’t a Chicago-area airport with enough room for a static display that is near enough.