Five Takeaways from the 2017 International Paris Air Show

By Eriola Fishman | Automation Alley | 7/12/2017

Automation Alley returned last week from the 2017 International Paris Air Show with a group of 10 Michigan companies, where deals were signed and relationships were built for all companies involved. The success of this mission already has us planning for the next show, and if you’re a professional working in the aeronautics and space sector, you should too! Here are five things you need to know if you plan to attend the International Paris Air Show in the future.

1. The International Paris Air Show is massive. The largest of its kind, rivaling the Farnborough and Dubai air shows with 2,300 international exhibitors, 150,000 trade visitors, 30 national pavilions and almost 300 official delegations, the International Paris Air Show is a must-attend event for all professionals working in the aeronautics and space sector. Featuring six different halls, multiple chalets and a huge static display, it can take the whole duration of the show to see everything…and you still might not have enough time.

2. It’s not just for the big boys. (i.e., Airbus and Boeing) The show is also geared toward small and medium-sized companies. The Michigan SME companies that participated in our trade mission all generated true leads and some even had sales while they were still at the show. Good connections with great potential were made by all companies. Even large companies such as Airbus and Dassault met with our Michigan companies. It does help to have the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Governor of the State support the local companies as he meets with the larger international companies at the show.

3. Companies must do their homework. Automation Alley is here to help you with this one. It’s important to know who is exhibiting, who they would like to meet with and even reach out to these contacts ahead of time for pre-arranged meetings. Companies should take advantage of all business-to-business matchmaking appointment opportunities set up by the show organizers, or other groups. All of our companies were very pleased with their matchmaking meetings and the outcome from these meetings. You never know who you will meet, whether it’s a French manufacturer or a local Michigan supplier. Many international companies, especially French companies, do not like to talk about business right away. They want to get to know you first. It is all about relationship building. If you really want their business, get to know your counterparts and ask questions about their families. The show is very international! Many of our companies had meetings with not only French companies, but multinational firms from the US, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Mexico, etc.

4. Invest in a display or booth at the show. For U.S. companies, it is very important to have a display or booth at the show, preferably within the U.S. Pavilion. Other companies will know you are serious about the show and the meetings if you have a physical space with convincing graphics, marketing materials, etc. Even if you leave your booth, interest could be generated via the heavy foot traffic at the show. If your graphics are done well enough to sell your story and your company’s products, you could make a sale right away. I watched this happen firsthand. Always have someone cover your booth when you are away at meetings, so that they can collect business cards for you.

5. Defense spending is on the rise. Military aircraft were a large facet at the show, including the F-35 (first time outside of U.S.), the C-130 (also known as the Super Hercules), the Scorpion Attack jet, the RACER search and rescue aircraft and the X6 military helicopter. With turmoil going on in the Middle East and Asia, countries are purchasing more and more fleets of fighter jets. Because of the range of innovation, companies and countries together will continue to increase spending in the defense and aerospace sectors. If Michigan companies are looking to diversify, they should strongly consider these two sectors.

To date, Automation Alley’s trade mission program has secured over $700 million in export sales for Michigan companies. These missions offer a significant savings to companies doing business abroad. Want to learn more about our award-winning trade mission program? Visit us online.

Eriola Fishman is International Business Services Supervisor for Automation Alley, assisting in trade mission planning and execution, traveling to international locales and helping Michigan companies in expanding their markets overseas through global trade and export. Fishman is also responsible for assisting with Automation Alley’s business attraction activities, including helping companies from around the world set up their operations in Michigan through Automation Alley’s International Business Center, a soft-landing space for foreign companies to use as a home base while exploring opportunities to do business in Southeast Michigan.

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