What will NBAA look like this year?
What will NBAA look like this year? That is the question we have been kicking around here at JBA the last couple of weeks. It is now six weeks away and we are starting to make some travel arrangements and general preparations for that week. The week of NBAA is always a whirlwind for us and the two weeks on either side of the convention are usually some of the busiest and most productive weeks of our year. Will this year follow that same pattern?
It’s hard to say. I know that the NBAA trade show is viewed very differently depending on the line of business you serve. While it can be a great place to launch a new product for an OEM, the pre-owned market views the show very differently. A small percentage of the pre-owned dealers will typically bring aircraft to the show to be displayed at the static display in hopes of uncovering a willing buyer. However, most of us in pre-owned use the show as a way of re-connecting with our customers, reinforcing the brand we have developed through our marketing efforts and customer referrals and maybe meet a new prospect or two.
JBA Aviation has displayed at every NBAA since 1979, with the exception of the scaled down show in 2001 after the events of September 11th. We have participated in static display a few times, but will typically have a booth on the floor of the convention center like last year. This year we have decided we will not display at NBAA. We think it is important to be there, but our presence will be scaled back from that of previous years.
Last week I took the liberty of polling many of the other NARA dealers and brokers on their intentions for the convention. An overwhelming majority had decided that they too would be scaling back their presence for 2009. Only a handful would be displaying at the convention center and almost all said they would be cutting their attendance at least in half. That includes the OEM’s. I understand that neither Cessna nor Hawker Beech will have a booth on the convention floor and will be cutting attendance dramatically. Gulfstream will not be having their typical golf tournament. I’m afraid the parties will be few and far between this year. Probably a much more business oriented feel than we have seen in years past. But anything should be an improvement from the attitude that was circling us all this time last year.
I think the overall attitude of NBAA this year should be one of reserved optimism. Not necessarily optimism of increasing prices or high sales figures, but simply that better times are coming. Of course, as I’ve said before, “when someone finally stops hitting you over the head with a hammer, it feels good”. I think the hammer finally let up this summer and we are all focusing on the fundamentals, the blocking and tackling of aircraft sales. According to Jerry Smith, President of JBA Aviation those are “First sell yourself, then sell your company and then sell your product”. To that, I might add frequent communication with our customers and prompt, accurate response to new inquiries.
One interesting phenomenon I have noticed recently is that many brokers are now actively pursuing new listings. Earlier this year it seemed as if we would have a large supply of aircraft for sale for a long time. Today, many brokers find themselves with very few sellable listings left. Few dealers are pursuing aircraft to purchase for inventory today which leaves them very little to sell.
We currently have several very sellable listings, but could certainly handle a few more. If your company is considering buying or selling your aircraft, please don’t hesitate to call and any of our sales associates would be happy to give you their opinion of current value and walk you through the service offerings we provide. Otherwise, hope to see all of you in Orlando in six weeks time.
Toby J. Smith
JBA Aviation, Inc.