Exhibitors give organizers good grades in most subjects

 - February 20, 2008, 3:57 AM

The day after the opening of the first international airshow in Singapore since the migration of Asian Aerospace to Hong Kong, exhibitors here seemed more than happy with the new site and with the event’s organization. According to the companies AIN has surveyed, everything has gone quite smoothly during the setup process, except perhaps for an odd glitch here and there.

Access, for one, has received a clear “A” grade. Closer drop-off points have pleased a Sabena Technics official. And the conspicuous absence of traffic jams has pleased virtually everyone–whether traveling by bus or passenger car. Only two exhibitors mentioned some waiting at a peak hour late in the afternoon–but that was nothing compared with the traffic nightmare during the entire Paris Air Show.

Meanwhile, almost nobody reported any difficulty going through security checks. One reporter, however, got caught in a 10-minute-plus queue between the chalet line and the hall. One Sabena Technics communications officer said she found her small storage space open after the security sweep. Although nothing was stolen, she said she would rather have found it locked, as she left it.

Exhibitors enjoy the layout, which drew praise for the proximity of the chalet line, halls and static display. As a business jet maker’s public relations representative put it, “this show is about as convenient as EBACE in Geneva.” A Finmeccanica media officer, however, complained he would have liked a view on to the runway to see flying-display aircraft taking off.

All told, however, the new site scored higher marks than the old show site.  A CFM employee said the overall site is “a bit more streamlined,” although she had no complaints about the old one. She said she liked the fact that the hall was air-conditioned during the setup phase, and a Saab representative said the improvement exceeded her expectations.

Asked about the official opening time on Tuesday, a couple of companies complained of the noon start time, however. “When you have spent all this time and money coming to a show, you want to get started as early as possible,” an Eaton marketing executive told AIN. Adapting one’s meeting schedule to this opening time is manageable, he said, but he noted that people do stop working at lunch time here, which makes things even more difficult.

Several exhibitors, however, liked the fact that opening at noon makes room for official visits, noting that the delegations could not otherwise see the exhibited products in quiet conditions.

One third of the exhibitors with which AIN talked experienced problems with electricity,  telephone lines or Internet connections–sometimes all of them. The glitches, which occurred at the chalets and stands, delayed several setups.

In terms of attendance, most exhibitors seemed content with it. One Mubadala executive said he expected busier aisles, though. Three company representatives said Wednesday morning was too early to decide whether they were happy or not.
Among suggested improvements were calls for more lounge spaces. “If you are a basic trade visitor, you sometimes want to sit down, stretch your legs or use your laptop,” a Lufthansa Technik employee told AIN.  Also, one exhibitor faced difficulties finding food at lunch time: one restaurant was fully booked, one stand ran out of sandwiches and the food court was crowded.

Finally, two defense companies floated the idea of showcasing ships on the neighboring Strait– they saw it as a natural addition to the existing aircraft and land systems exhibits.