Lydia Janow of Aviation Week embraces everything from quirky floor plans to topical content to facilitate long-lasting relationships with attendees—and spur innovation in the aviation industry.
To create innovative and interactive meetings post-pandemic, planners around the nation are raising the bar on productivity and capitalizing on the attendee experience. In Orlando, eight planners have exceeded in this area, setting the bar high for both their peers and the industry. We talked to them about how they combine lessons learned during the pandemic with tried-and-true best practices to create meaningful in-person experiences to re-engage attendees—and keep them coming back for more.
Our first “Planner of Productivity” is Lydia Janow, managing director of events and trade shows for Aviation Week, a global network that provides news, data, tools, and events for aviation industry insiders. Janow began her journey at Aviation Week as an administrative assistant. Thirty years later, she oversees a large international team and a contracted sales force. Together, they produce legacy events in domestic destinations, including Orlando, as well as far-flung locales such as Dubai and Singapore. Like many of their events, this year’s conference will help attendees build long-lasting relationships with one another—and will focus on helping the aviation industry rebuild capacity and sustainability for years to come.
Visit Orlando: Some of your events have been running for more than 20 years. Can you give us a few examples of how you keep these legacy events fresh and make sure they still add value for attendees?
Lydia Janow: It’s a great question. On the conference side, we focus on innovative content to keep things feeling fresh and new. Conferences are always jam-packed with topics; you want to have a diverse selection to meet attendees’ needs. But what will people actually attend, listen to and stay engaged with? This is what I ask myself.
We also spend significant time thinking about the floor plan. It seems insignificant, but the environment we create can drastically change the atmosphere and energy for attendees. Sometimes, we switch up where registration is held. Maybe we add lounges along the perimeter of the floor plan. We also create wide aisles to encourage mingling, and always tap into our creative brains to name them something fun. When we were in Orlando, we named the “streets” after Disney characters the first time, and the second time, we brought in themes from Universal. It’s fun to plan and always gives attendees something to talk about.
Visit Orlando: How do you define innovation, and what are you doing to infuse it into the live meetings you plan?
LJ: Innovation is strewn throughout everything we talk about. It can mean many things to many different people: Products and suppliers exhibiting on the show floor, or people at all levels of the aviation supply chain. And then the visitors, the airlines, and the leasing companies. They’re all learning from each other. No matter the topic, there is always a need for this type of networking, conversation and education around new products and services. It’s all about relationship building and what they’re doing together.
VO: What advice would you give to peers about keeping up with consumer expectations? How should they not only manage this, but continuously surprise and delight attendees?
LJ: Take a step back and watch. Watch the audience behavior, whether on the show floor, in a booth, at registration. During the event, my office is the registration area and the exhibition floor because I love to observe and learn attendee behavior in real time. It’s the most useful way I’ve found to collect this type of information.
VO: Describe a few of the initiatives you’ve spearheaded—no matter how large or small—to improve the live attendee experience.
LJ: We recently introduced what we call a “Go Live Theater,” where suppliers have the opportunity to talk about their product. It’s been a hit—attendees are engaged and suppliers love the 15 minutes of fame.
We also have plans to debut an “Aerospace Incubator.” Just think about “The Jetsons” and you’ll know what they’re working towards: flying cars. It’s a very hot subject right now, but what does this actually look like in the future? We’re planning to launch this new series to bring together the financial side of the industry, new startups, the new technologies, and the innovators who are bringing it all together.
VO: You have held conferences in numerous domestic and international locations. What keeps you coming back to Orlando?
In 2020, I told the team that come hell or high water, we would be holding this event in person in 2021. A lot of them shook their heads and didn’t believe me. Orlando came to mind immediately. After visiting the site and meeting the team, I was extremely confident that, at the end of April, we could host MRO Americas there. And we did. It was seamless and Orlando blew it out of the water.
This article has been provided by Visit Orlando.
When it comes to productivity, innovation and unique attendee experience, Orlando tops the list. With fantastical backdrops you won’t find anywhere else, only Orlando can offer incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences that your attendees will be talking about for years to come. Tapping into the heritage of creative thinking from its first-rate theme parks, Orlando offers a wide range of creative resources to help transform your meeting or event. From unique team building activities, exclusive dine-around options to immersive private events inside its world-renowned theme parks complete with a fire-breathing dragon, you are sure to wow your group in Orlando. Discover the many resources available to you to help make your next meeting or event unforgettable at Orlandomeeting.com.
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