The Benefits Of In-Person Attendance At Post-Pandemic MRO Events

AW&ST staff at an in-person event
Credit: AW&ST

Having written plenty last year about returning to normal and emerging from the pandemic, the new year threatened to set back some of that expansionist naivete. Regardless, the first quarter of the year has always been a time to reflect on travel and event registration plans, so the tradition should be usefully upheld.

Whether you’re happy to have moved past the rigors of in-person travel and face-to-face gatherings or itching to connect personally with clients and colleagues, the menu of options for engagement demands careful thought about why to go. Your calendar (and related travel requirements) should reflect the outcomes you need.

Building business relationships? Seeking out new suppliers or customers? Trying to close a long-elusive deal with a potential partner? A special meeting scheduled during a large exposition—preferably in or around the beautiful floor display of one of the parties involved—will provide the right backdrop for your negotiation.

Developing personal or professional knowledge? Managing a challenging issue with your local inspector? Bringing a new product online but struggling with an approval? Sharing best practices about how to tackle regulatory compliance, workforce or business development challenges? Find a content-heavy symposium or set of briefings featuring key officials and industry peers (and be sure to insert yourself into the question-and-answer session of the appropriate panel or talk).

Looking to generate good will? Need to produce media visibility? Want to connect your company with the spirit of the industry or cultivate the next generation of technical talent? Find a competition or showcase and figure out how best to participate: field a team, construct a challenge or sponsor an activity. A great example (and opportunity) is the Aerospace Maintenance Competition held in conjunction with Aviation Week’s MRO Americas conference in April. You might also consider sponsoring a competition at your company between teams from local aviation and technical schools.

These general parameters have held for years, but the post(?)-pandemic “normal” now provides an additional consideration: personal attendance or online connection. As you might imagine, the best avenue for participation depends on what you need from the event. Planners have developed some clever ways to facilitate personal connection, from “virtual” exhibit halls to online recreational events. Still, there may be no perfect replacement for the reality of personal interaction (notably, the “chance” nature of encounters at many collegial events).

Whichever events you choose to attend and whichever attendance method you select, participation is an investment of your time and your company’s money. Make good on those investments by having a very clear idea of what benefit you want to derive from your participation.

How do you make these decisions? Is it worth it? Share your thoughts via an ongoing “quick question” on ARSA’s website at If you’d like the personal touch and you happen to be reading this while participating in ARSA’s 2022 Annual Conference . . . just come tell me (or send me a chat . . . if the livestream is your thing).

Brett Levanto is vice president of operations at Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, managing firm and client communications in conjunction with regulatory and legislative policy initiatives. He provides strategic and logistical support for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association.