Paris Air Show Pledges B-to-B Smartphone App For 2013

 - July 11, 2012, 4:31 PM

Paris Air Show organizers are promising an improved experience for visitors and exhibitors at next year’s event (June 17-23). There will be a new smartphone app to help visitors, and road and pedestrian access is being rethought, although showgoers should not expect Le Bourget’s infamous traffic jams to miraculously disappear.

The famous show is organized by SIAE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of French aerospace industry association Gifas (Hall 1 Stand A15). The company is expecting about as many exhibitors as in 2011–around 2,100.

The smartphone app will use GPS and other sources–such as WiFi–to provide users their location whether outdoors or inside the halls. A basic function will help them optimize their walking journeys if they have, for example, 10 stands to see in a day. Moreover, it will help people to find each other. If two people have a meeting planned, the app will tell each where the other is, if they opt in to allow this.

“We want our customers to get more value for their money,” Paris Air Show chairman Emeric d’Arcimoles told AIN. Moreover, d’Arcimoles wants to demonstrate that his team is not running the show in the same old way. “We are innovating, just like most aerospace companies do,” said. Three start-up companies–from Canada, the U.S. and France–are working on the app project.

As for getting to the show, marketing director Nicolas Tran said the organizers are talking to local authorities about improving traffic flow, with more dedicated bus lanes, for example. There will not be any new roads to really ease congestion, he admitted, but better signs and markings should help pedestrians walking to and from the Le Bourget RER train station, on the line between Paris and Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The show will open earlier–6:30 a.m. for exhibitors and 8:30 a.m. for visitors. Concierges will be available, as in 2011, to help exhibitors with special requests–for example, laundry service, restaurant bookings and so forth–for no additional fee. Efforts are also under way to make the show “greener,” with improvements such as replacing fuel-burning power generators with electric cables.

Show chairman D’Arcimoles and managing director Gilles Fournier addressed exhibitor unhappiness about keeping the stands open and staffed throughout the weekend, during the public days. They are urging companies to embrace this as a very necessary opportunity to engage with young, prospective employees. “It is difficult to attract young people to aerospace at a time when they too often hear industries are dying in Europe and thus turn to careers such as services and banking,” D’Arcimoles emphasized. He believes that resorting to basic tarpaulin-covered stands on the public days could give a negative impression about the industry as a place to build careers.

D’Arcimoles said he wants to give young people a real appetite for aerospace. “It is a long-term investment but it will be successful eventually,” he said. The “Employment and Training Forum” to be held again on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the show, attracted some 50,000 young people in 2011. On the Friday, entry is traditionally free for students.