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April 2013 Editorial

By John W. McCurry on April 3, 2013

So many trade shows, so little time.

With all the air cargo exhibitions and assorted logistics shows and other industry-related conferences, one could travel endlessly, living out of a large suitcase, networking and soaking up industry knowledge.  Of course that’s not likely, but all of these events have their value. Sometimes the schedules intersect, requiring some attendees and exhibitors to make a choice.

Competition is keen in the exhibition business, no matter what the industry. It is highly sensitive to economic conditions. A recent report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research shows a “cooling” in the exhibition industry during the second half of 2012. The CEIR attributes it to the spectre of the “fiscal cliff,” which it says hurt willingness by businesses to incur travel expenses.

Spring is the major season for logistics trade shows, and March has presented a particular logjam in recent years as two of the big air cargo events, IATA’s World Cargo Symposium and the AirCargo Conference and Exhibition, have been held nearly simultaneously. AirCargo 2013 was in Las Vegas this year while WCS was in Doha, Qatar, about 8,100 miles away. Anyone inclined to attend both was out of luck.

Also running concurrently was the hugely popular International Boston Seafood Show/Seafood Processing America, an event that attracts forwarders of perishable goods and airline personnel.  On the schedule the week before was the WCA Family Worldwide Conference in Bangkok, which attracted more than 2,400 freight forwarders.

The schedule conflicts will be fewer in 2014 as the four organizing groups of AirCargo—The Airforwarders Association, the Air and Expedited Motor Carriers Association, the Express Delivery and Logistics Association and the Airport Council International—North America—have chosen to adjust the schedule for AirCargo 2014, scheduled for March 30-April 1 in Orlando. IATA plans to hold WCS 2014 the week of March 11-13 in Los Angeles.

Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, says the schedule change is by design to avoid conflicts and encourage greater attendance. This year’s AirCargo show was labeled a major success by its organizers as they say it drew nearly 1,000 attendees and featured a sold-out exhibition hall. Attendance was buoyed by the addition of Airports Council International as a partner. WCS was also well-attended this year, attracting nearly 1,000.

Whether the move will boost attendance of the two events remains to be seen, but the opportunity is there to attend both. AirCargo organizers should be commended for making the change, which allows the industry’s globetrotters to attend more shows.

John W. McCurry is the editor of Air Cargo World.

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