NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference Recap

Author By Jim Lara

Although I admit I hadn’t been to the NBAA’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference in many years,we received an invitation to speak at the January 2016 event.

With industry conferences as plentiful as they are, it’s always the same, inevitable question on every one: to attend or not to attend?

My colleague, Steve Brechter, and I made the decision to go, because we looked forward to the speaking opportunity as well as the chance to network and connect with clients.

Our Take on the Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference

Steve and I are unanimous that this year’s S&D Conference was, hands-down, the best NBAA event we’ve ever attended.

Yes, we’d go back in a heartbeat.

First of all, there were a record 2,800-plus attendees this year, along with more than 500 exhibitors. We couldn’t agree more with NBAA Vice President Mike Nichols, when he said that “Schedulers and dispatchers are the buyers and they are empowered to come here and make choices, while gaining valuable skills and knowledge through robust education sessions.”

As we all recognize, schedulers and dispatchers are the hub of the aviation organization. There’s no role more important to the fast-paced and fluid function of a business aviation operation. So we had a sense of mission going into the conference that we wanted to absorb as much as we could.

The seminar that we presented, “Think Process, Not Function,” attracted 100+ attendees. The crowd, I’m very happy to say, were fully engaged in the discussion.

As Steve pointed out, these were professionals who were there to work—not play. Because of the very nature of their jobs, they don’t have much of an opportunity to “get out” and participate in events like this. So, from our observations, they seemed grateful and acted like it was a privilege to be there.

For them, attending is the equivalent of their “annual recurrent training,” and they were on hand to make the most of it. The tone was serious and focused. We had dozens of high-quality interactions with the attendees, and they offered many insightful comments and questions during our presentation.

It also worked for us from a networking standpoint. I think we had more substantive conversations with existing and prospective clients than at any other conference in recent memory. Because they’re so serious about getting the most of out being there, schedulers are keenly interested in picking up every “best practice” they can.

After all, they’re influencers and enablers within their respective aviation organizations and it certainly showed in their commitment.

To cap off the experience, feedback from an industry colleague about our “Think Process, Not Function” seminar was an added bonus. We had a great turnout, a highly engaged audience and there was a lot of interest expressed in the Process Template we developed for our seminar attendees. Our colleague said that our presentation was the “best they attended while at the conference.” He further said that the “light bulb really lit up”for him in terms of making the shift to process thinking within his aviation organization.

In sum, Steve and I both feel that the 2016 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference was a tremendously beneficial experience and we are already looking forward to next year’s event. It’s time and money well spent, with much to be gained.