Last week I attended business aviation’s annual convention in Orlando. This event hosted by the National Business Aviation Association is the big event for the business aviation segment of our industry.
Each year as I plan for the three days at the convention I focus most of my time on whom I will meet that our company does business with or wants to do business with – both vendors and customers. I will also plan to attend a session or two where I can learn more about what is going on in our industry.
This year, NBAA conducted a session on Social Media and Business Aviation. This caught my attention since our company has put a strategy in play for the use of social media. The Association maintains an active Twitter feed and Facebook fan page to facilitate more of a community atmosphere. The NBAA’s No Plane No Gain campaign is also quite active on both Twitter and Facebook. It is the first year that NBAA put this session on, and after attending, I feel sure that it will not be the last.
The panelists and moderator were Patrick Dunne, NBAA communications manager, Rob Mark, of Business Jet Traveler and the aviation blog JetWhine, Benet Wilson, senior writer for McGraw-Hill’s Aviation Week group and Ryan Keough, manager of marketing and communications for Cutter Aviation FBO Network. They did an excellent job of communicating their viewpoints and bringing those who attended into the conversation. After all, social media is about conversation. The conversation in this session was lively, engaging and informative. I got the feeling that most of us in attendance could have stayed another two hours if time would have allowed it.
Our industry with all of its technology and innovation in design of aircraft is slow to embrace change when it come to new ways of doing business and especially in ways we communicate our message to our markets. I am grateful to NBAA for recognizing the power of social media and what it can do to change the message. I would like to add a thought to the conversation looking forward from that ground breaking session on the intersection of social media and business aviation. It is time we use this powerful form of communication to lead the conversation on the value proposition of what we offer to travel.In the past few years as our industry has come under attack by the airlines, who feel threatened by what we offer and try to shift attention away from their faulty business models, we have taken a defensive position. They attack, we defend!
Social media offers those of us in the business of aviation the ability to dialogue with the market and bypass “the not so friendly media” who have not given us our say. Mainstream media no longer has command and control of the message unless we idly sit back and give it to them. They can say what they want (i.e., USA TODAY ARTICLE SLAMMING SMALL AIRPORT FUNDING) and instantly we can respond back with the truth. We no longer have to hope that our interviews with media will be accurate and on message. We now have the power to have our own direct unfiltered conversations with the market. That is not defense. That is offense.
It is hard work communicating. It takes time out of our busy schedules doing what we do to run our businesses. We can come up with all the excuses about how we don’t have time to communicate to those who might use our services, but, at the end of the day, if we choose not to communicate then we let someone else lead the conversation. That someone else may not have the best interest of business aviation in mind.
Will we take this new form of communication and rise to the challenge it offers us to lead in the conversation? I say we have to if we are to survive and, better yet, to prosper. The opportunities for our industry to grow have never been better and we now have the power to communicate our value proposition, and to hear from our markets, allowing us to innovate to meet the market. Let’s not relegate the important job of communicating with our market to the mainstream media. They haven’t gotten it right for all the years I have been in this business and they don’t appear to be changing their approach; so, I say Carpe Diem! What do you say?