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SimAirline.net - Message Boards • View topic - International FlightSim Convention Report

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 Post subject: International FlightSim Convention Report
PostPosted: 13 Jul 2005, 00:26 
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The attacks in London have forced Craig Marriott to cancel his help at the convention. Glenn Hall from London is still planning on attending, and should be picking me up at Manchester Airport tomorrow morning. I can't reach him to confirm because all the phone lines between the U.S. and the U.K. are full. I'm at Washington Dulles International Airport, and my flight to Newark is delayed. The remnants of a storm that hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are coming here tonight, and the overcast sky has slowed operations down in Newark so that my aircraft, scheduled to fly back and forth on the route all day, has been stuck on the ground in Newark due to lack of a take-off slot. I have a 2:40 layover in Newark though, so I'm not worried.

I'm worried. The aircraft has finally departed from Newark to here, and will be departing over three hours late. I probably won't make my connection, but fortunately I'm booked on the first flight to Manchester, and Continental added a second last week. All the remaining flights of the day from here to Newark have been cancelled, and Continental can't rebook me on another airline if the delay is weather-related. I've called Josh Plave and had him email (and IM where possible) Glenn, Amy Gardner, and Karan Gorania, who will then call Glenn and let him know that I will be two hours late.

I'm in Newark, and arrived one minute after my flight pushed back. I arrive at the new departure gate ninety minutes before departure. I've called Josh again, and he told me that
Amy text-messaged Glenn, but received no reply.

I've arrived in Manchester, and left customs to find no one here. I've called Glenn but his line is unavailable. I reached Mark Pattinson, our other available pilot, who told me he can't give me a ride from here to Blackpool. I've started looking at other options, and discovered that local trains run from the airport to Blackpool every hour or so.

I've finally reached Glenn, and he informs me that he wasn't able to get out of London. He will be taking a train up later today, but I need to get to Blackpool on my own. We were planning on visiting the Aviation Viewing Park at the airport (including G-BOAC) and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry of Manchester, but those have to be cancelled now.

I've arrived in Blackpool and have discovered that I need to take a bus to get to the hotel where the convention is and that I'm staying at. I need to walk to downtown to get to the appropriate bus stop.

I've finally arrived at the hotel, checked in, and checked out our booth. It's smaller than I expected, but this should be fine. I'm scheduled to meet with Glenn and Mark at 8, but Glenn has just IMed me and told me that his job needs him to stay in London to help with relief. Unfortunately, I can't recover his hotel or entry pass costs. Our neighbors, from Transload Virtual, are very friendly with two from Denver and one from New South Wales. We went to dinner together tonight and had a good time.

I've met with Mark, who is ready and eager to help, and showed him our materials and how we plan to work everything tomorrow. The lost costs are problematic, but hopefully things will still go well.

The convention starts in half an hour, but our banner has fallen, so we've done an emergency repair and gotten everything set up just in time.

The convention is an hour in, and response has not been so good. We've changed our procedure a bit, giving out information fliers to everyone who passes. Our 2004 Annual Survey showed over 90% of our pilots are under 50, and 70% under 35. The people attending seem to be skewed the opposite direction, and some don't even understand what virtual airlines are. The location here probably affected that; Blackpool is an expensive resort town and not near any universities. The number of people we actually talk to is slim.

It's afternoon, and two of our pilots, Ian Place and Bob Marston, have come up and met us, and we've had our best talks of the day. I've met the managers of FlyUK, another virtual airline, who are about our age as well. It seems our booth location is suboptimal; it's on the edge and between intersections. The events in London have probably also depressed attendance, and being in northern England, it seems people are less interested in major airlines, as they're more London-oriented. Also, although our convention marketing focuses highly on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, it's not enough; even more would have been better, as interest in foreign VAs is almost nothing. I visited the British Airways Virtual booth, which is not impressive and has less information than ours, albeit better located. I stopped by twice to speak to their CEO, but he wasn't around either time and didn't return the visit.

The convention is closed for the day, and I'm going to dinner with the Transload managers again. We had planned on that weeks in advance anyways: BAV declined our invitation, Austrian virtual and Pacific Sun Airways never replied and pulled out, and FlyUK wanted to go elsewhere for the evening. One of the Transload managers is Garry Smith, a well-known repainter, who offered some tips to me for a potential logo and improvements to our planned logojet. Today I also discussed other aspects of marketing and operations with FlyUK and Transload, and have some ideas on things we can improve in our marketing. Both groups have pretty similar operating philosophies to ours: offer more choices and give pilots what they want rather than what management wants. I also had the luck to meet two reporters from Flugsimulation, a German-oriented FS site. Hopefully we'll be able to work with them and the future; they plan on doing a feature on us as well.

It's lunchtime on day two. Our banner fell again overnight; not unexpected. So far today has been lighter than yesterday, whereas everyone was expecting a bigger crowd--perhaps twice as big. Hopefully the airshow will draw a lot more people out. I'll be interviewed by the Flugsimulation crew later today.

The afternoon was expected to bring a big crowd, but things actually appear smaller than yesterday. The FlyUK head's brother had a car accident near here, so he's had to leave; their booth has been left unattended.

Mark just left to attend the airshow. The convention ends in about half an hour, and we've had some interesting successes near the end. I met an air traffic controller from Brussels National, who was the controller for the final Sabena flight. I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with a Virgin Atlantic 747-400 captain, and he says he'll pass our information around where he can.

The part of the airshow that I saw was mainly the Red Arrows only. Unfortunately, I missed some World War II aircraft because I was packing our materials up, but I was able to catch the celebrations in London on TV.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 13 Jul 2005, 05:55 
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Hmm... sounds like it didn't go as well as expected. Oh well, it's important to get the word out about our VA, and that's precisely what's been done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 13 Jul 2005, 10:57 
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Exactly, that's what I think too.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 13 Jul 2005, 12:53 
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For those pilots and management who help us with financial contributions, Your money hasn't been lost. I'm going to refund the hotel costs to Simairline. My plans for the convention weekend were all set, but were ruined buy the events in London on Thursday.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 13 Jul 2005, 21:59 
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I agree with Kyle and Ali, at least we got our name out.

I also think that getting to know Transload Virtual will help us a lot in the future, and even if it doesn't at least Aaron met some nice guys. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 14 Jul 2005, 00:09 
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Thanks for mentioning that, Glenn. I forgot to include that.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 14 Jul 2005, 01:57 
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I don't know about the -700. The last I checked, their only 737s were -300s. My sourcebook says nothing about them getting NGs.

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