Meridian, the award-winning private aviation company based at Teterboro Airport, proudly participated as an exhibitor at the 2016 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2016). This year’s conference was held in Tampa, FL, at the Tampa Convention Center from Tuesday, January 19 through Friday, January 22, with a record 2,800-plus attendees and a record 517 exhibitors taking part in the event. The program included dozens of innovative education sessions, various networking events and ample opportunities to give back to the local community.
“We strive to enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience each year and, as a result, more and more people understand this is the place to be,” said Mike Nichols, NBAA’s vice president of operational excellence and professional development. “Schedulers and dispatchers are the buyers and they are empowered to come here and make choices, while gaining valuable skills and knowledge through robust education sessions.”
SDC2016 included many new features, most notably an increased focus on humanitarian efforts in support of the host city by holding a food packing event for Feeding America Tampa Bay. About 200 conference attendees volunteered time to pack 800 bags of food so needy children and their families would have food for the weekend. Additionally, this was the sixth year the conference collected gently used business clothes for local charities. This year, a total of 4,379 garments were collected, breaking last year’s record of 1,500 items. Read more about philanthropic events at SDC2016.
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen also took the opportunity to talk to attendees about the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill, which when introduced next month, is expected to include a call for privatizing air traffic control with user fees.
Calling it an “imminent battle,” Bolen urged SDC2016 attendees to contact lawmakers urging them to vote against the plan, adding they could use NBAA’s online Contact Congress resource to easily make their voice heard. “It’s a tremendous opportunity we have to make our views known,” he said. “We need all of you to be active and engaged in this process. The future of business aviation is at stake.” View Contact Congress.
Other new and expanded features of the conference included:
1. A unique approach to learning with innovative concepts, such as session rooms configured to inspire engagement and provide a more intimate and inclusive setting for professional development.
2. Two opening general session speakers who spoke to the conference theme – “unlock your potential.” On Jan. 19, best-selling author and entrepreneur Ty Bennett discussed leadership, and on Jan. 20, Bob Hobbi, President and CEO of ServiceElements International, facilitated realistic scenarios demonstrating challenges that schedulers and dispatchers experience in the workplace.
3. For the second year, a third full day of education sessions was offered on a wide-range of topics – from surviving audits to regulatory compliance and international operations to technology challenges.
“Professional development is a cornerstone of the Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, and we are continually striving to understand how our attendees want to learn and listening to their feedback and then trying to adapt to that,” said Jo Damato, NBAA’s director of educational development and strategy. “This conference is going into its 28th year and we don’t ever want to be a conference that looks the way it did 28 years ago or even five years ago. We are always moving forward and always looking at what can attendees get from this event that improves their professional development ”
Dozens of scholarships also were awarded at SDC2016, with thousands of dollars in monetary and training scholarships presented to dozens of individuals.
Additionally, Dorette Kerr, a former chair of the S&D Committee, received the association’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Outstanding Achievement & Leadership Award. Read more about Kerr and the award.
“The conference went great, we had a lot of positive feedback from attendees about the event,” said SDC2016 Chair Eve Gregory, with C&S Wholesale Grocers, noting that it takes hundreds of volunteers to make the conference a success each year. “The organizing committee did a remarkable job – it was apparent in the exhibit hall, in the session rooms and in everything that they planned. I’m so proud of the conference they produced.”
Next year’s conference (SDC2017) is scheduled for February 7 through 10 in Fort Worth, TX.