Ever since Ed Sullivan,
the man who introduced The Beatles to America in 1964, coined “A
Really Big Show,” we have thought of that phrase when we anticipate
showing up for another air cargo trade event.
The trade event journeys continue: from
New York to Palm Springs and Shanghai to United Kingdom, a slightly delirious
season of trade events, shows, and gatherings are driven in part by the
need to meet and greet and fulfill the never-ending quest of filling up
Is The Top
Today on balance, the CNS Partnership Conference
is on the money as the right sized, performance-driven, top world event
for air cargo.
Spreading that thought a bit wider, IATA
hit the sweet spot when it patterned its World Cargo Symposium (WCS) after
CNS Partnership Conference.
CNS Partnership began in the U.S. as a middle
ground meeting in a nice venue, gathered yearly for the past 28 years
with mostly airlines and forwarders in attendance.
2017 and 2018 have seen an increased focus
on other stakeholders such as airports, ground handlers, and service providers.
This year, CNS still holds the “Ace” as the most pleasant,
customer-driven place to take a meeting over the course of a three-day
event with airlines, forwarders, and others, including airports, GSSAs,
truckers, and various factions of the transportation business.
We have always loved CNS—from President
Tony Calabrese to Mike White and Lionel van der Walt in between—for
its open, arm’s length access to everybody, top to bottom.
By comparison, WCS has grown rapidly during
the past few seasons, and is in reality a commercialized edition of a
yearly mandated meeting of top IATA cargo executives that has been held
for the past 40 years. It is the cargo version of the more widely publicized
IATA passenger yearly meeting that draws top IATA management.
Another notable difference between CNS and
WCS (aside from the huge commercial advantage CNS holds in its direct
customer contact meetings held 24/7 in private suites) is that access
between the classes at WCS is limited in availability by several “invitation
At CNS, almost everybody is welcome to attend
every gathering with many of these same executives, who during the day
are sequestered in the aforementioned non-stop customer meetings. They
are always nearby, whether happily out with the people at night, at the
cocktail events, drifting around the lawn parties and golf courses, or
waiting patiently in the queues for lunch or dinner.
Spoil Air Cargo Europe?
the net a bit wider, in recent years buzz in the business has been on
the biennial Mega Air Cargo Europe.
No doubt, Air Cargo Europe has developed
into “the” really big show that is held at Messe Munich.
But success has had its impact, so get ready to wear your track shoes
and comfortable clothing to experience a trip through the looking glass
into (to quote a favorite book title by the late Tom Wolfe) a Kandy-Kolored
Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby transportation fairyland.
Sure, there are hundreds of display stands
and thousands of people.
But at Air Cargo Europe, success has caused
this event to completely outgrow the exhibit halls with what appear to
be declining creature comforts at hand.
For example, in 2017 the meager walking
space allotted for attendees to move between display stands looked and
felt like pig runs in a slaughterhouse.
No doubt, heavy attendance at any industry
event has its advantages.
In general a packed venue is more productive,
more innovative, and more energy efficient.
But only up to a point.
Marching up and down narrow corridors filled
with legions of conferees lined on both sides by massive, multi-story
sky scrapers, delivers a trade show experience that forces those seeking
respite and space to breathe to the open air lawns located outside the
venue between the buildings.
The hope is that Air Cargo Europe can find
more expansive space to accommodate what should be another “Really
Big Show” next May.
The Last Word
Thinking a bit further ahead, there are
many events bidding for industry attention scheduled for the remainder
The dearth of shows scheduled raises more
than just the challenge of attendees making choices and finding the time
and money to show up.
For example, just as CNS Partnership ended,
less than three weeks later came Air Cargo China (ACC) in Shanghai, a
gathering that included some of the same people who were in attendance
in Palm Springs.
What did these people bumping into each
other again in so short a time have to say to each other?
A quick look at the Air Cargo China panel
sessions reveals that Alexis von Hoensbroech, Chief Commercial Officer,
Lufthansa Cargo, soon to be CEO of Austrian Airlines, discussed about
the same thing in China that was delivered as his Keynote Address at CNS
in Palm Springs.
We support carrying the discourse further,
but also think this example illustrates a need for panel planners to seek
out more current, updated industry issues for discussion.
A driving force in China air cargo and aviation
right now is airports, a subject that got no show at ACC.
In any case, it’s fair to say less duplication of topics would go
further to support driving greater interest in panel sessions at these
To be continued . . .