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Brits abroad: an NBAA-BACE 2023 special
Flying to Las Vegas, being among thousands of people, walking hundreds of thousands of steps, and of course, collecting swag… this year will mark my 7th NBAA and I cannot wait!
Over the years I have learnt some valuable lessons about being a Brit in the USA, often through making embarrassing mistakes. To try and prevent you from stepping onto the cultural traps littering (aka ‘trash’) the conference hall, here is my Brits guide to NBAA-BACE 2023.
This is not EBACE: Just as the USA is not the UK (it has more exciting weather, bigger cars and stronger accents), NBAA-BACE is not simply EBACE in America. NBAA is colossal and more diverse than you realise; it spans across 2.5 convention halls with stands and exhibits from every aspect of business aviation –“Big Ass Fans” and “Best Tugs” are particular favourites of mine (really, go check them out); NASA even has a booth! The sheer number of exhibitors can be overwhelming and studying the online directory in advance is essential to make efficient use of your time.
Going to the static: another huge difference to EBACE is the static display. Getting there is a good 45min bus journey to Henderson Executive Airport and the size difference is apparent immediately (it can feel like a whole EBACE in itself). Due to the travel time and size, it is important to plan your visit accordingly and avoid trying to fit it in on the last day as many will be closing down or gone completely.
Getting around: while certainly not the biggest city, Las Vegas can feel huge if it is your first time. Getting around can be a nightmare as the roads are always crowded and walking can be difficult due to time/distance to get between locations. My preference to get to the Convention centre is by monorail – it is cheap, clean and frequent. For evening events travel is trickier as often these are spread amongst the largest hotels (which are like small cities in themselves). Make sure to give yourself time and wear comfortable shoes!
FOMO: the fear of missing out can be strong at NBAA, in particular the evening parties and dinners. There are so many events and it can be tempting to try and go to them all. Plan wisely and make sure you have an invitation; more than ever organisers are ensuring they have security at the door and only invites are permitted entry due to the increasing threat of environmental protestors.
Toilets: just like EBACE, whenever you see a toilet, go and use it - only it will be called a restroom or a bathroom, although it will not contain a bath. Toilet breaks are fleeting and you never know when the next opportunity will arise!
Food: while it can often feel that every food option in Las Vegas is fried and arrives with cheese, there are increasing options for those with an eye on something healthier. The selection of food outlets at the convention centre have expanded over the years and now have some salad options, however, the prices remain eye-wateringly high. If in doubt, pick up something before you arrive as each hotel in Las Vegas has more internal food shops and outlets than anything we are used to in Europe.
Time to relax?!: Las Vegas is the city which never sleeps and if you’re suffering from jetlag you won’t either! It can feel that, with the schedule of conferences, exhibits, business meetings and cocktail receptions, you will never have a moment to yourself. In other words, it can all be a bit overwhelming if it is your first time. Make sure you allow enough time to sleep and eat over the days you visit – you will need the stamina to keep going.
Conclusion: NBAA-BACE is the biggest annual get together for business aviation in the world and great work can be had from it. Network the heck out of it, say yes to anything you are invited to, remember to enjoy it and, if you have done the week correctly, you should be going home exhausted. Oh, and make sure to say hi to me, Angie, Adrian, Phill and Mark when you see us around the show
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