Twelve months of AIX

Every year, thousands of people from across the global cabin interiors industry gather together at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg for the industry’s must-attend event. Kate Williams, Global Marketing Manager at STG Aerospace, explains why the event is so critical for the sector and runs through the annual countdown, which punctuates the whole year.


Why is AIX important?

Simply put, from our perspective, everyone is at AIX. Customers, potential customers, suppliers, and market influencers from across the world are all out in force. It is a one-stop opportunity to meet and build relationships, but also crucially to get customer insights on what challenges they are currently facing or anticipate, so we can identify ways to use our expertise and get working on solutions.

It’s a great opportunity to get customer input on new products and those in development. This feedback is a critical part of our development process at STG. We really value this collaborative way of fine tuning our products to make sure they deliver exactly what our customers need when they arrive on the market.

We also line up new product launches deliberately to coincide with AIX to maximise the reach and impact with the opportunity to give in-person demonstrations, then and there. We’re excited to be launching a new STG product in 2024 and cannot wait to talk about it with customers, contacts and journalists in May.

Having an eye-catching stand is also exciting to showcase our systems, so customers can experience the breadth of our offerings. We are best known for our pioneering emergency exit marking systems using photoluminescent technology, but sometimes customers are not aware of our other LED cabin lighting systems or of our capability across the wider Heads Up Technologies Group, so AIX is an opportunity to really demonstrate how we can solve customer lighting challenges.


How much planning goes into your AIX stand?

Whilst we can give online demonstrations of products, there is no comparison to experiencing them in person to understand how they work and the impact they would have on passengers, so we really think about the experience of visitors to our stand in our design process.

The stand also needs to be a welcoming space to hold meetings. AIX is a very busy time, with many back-to-back meetings and lots of walking! People are on their feet all day. We’ve learnt that everyone appreciates having a calm, comfortable place to sit down, when they meet us. It’s also important to keep the space as simple and user-friendly as possible, without information overload and to enable a quick meeting turnaround. We recently introduced a more ‘show room’ feel to our stand which suits this purpose.

To meet all the requirements, the stand takes a lot of planning.

We work with a UK-based stand design firm, our engineering & R&D teams are very much involved to incorporate all the elements that we need to make sure our vision for the stand and experience is delivered.

After each event, we reuse as much of the stand as we can and recycle what we cannot to avoid creating excessive waste.


When does event planning begin?

Just weeks after one AIX, planning begins for the following year.

Twelve months out, the organisers need to know if exhibitors would like to keep their stand, or prefer a different location or specification. So, the trade show is a year-long feature in our calendars.

From ten months before the event, discussions begin to decide what we want to showcase on our stand and whether there will be a new product launch. We like to have our new products fully certified and patented by the time we launch at AIX, so getting the timing right for this can be a challenge.

Six months before AIX, planning activities begin to ramp up to make decisions including what samples to order, who will attend and to book accommodation, as Hamburg fills up during these busy few days. At this point, we also review any product launches and begin to sketch out the potential marketing and PR plans around these. As such a significant event, it’s important that we maximise the exposure we get before, during and after AIX.

By the time we are three months away from AIX it is full steam ahead and with various deadlines approaching. Final stand designs need to be submitted for approval by the organisers, so they can ensure they are able to provide any support required of them. The finer but vital details such as power supplies, catering and cleaning services all need to be agreed and pre-arranged. At this point, we prepare the team attending and begin booking in meetings with customers, partners and other contacts.

As with any event, the final hours are critical. Our stand designers begin building on site on the Friday before AIX and the Monday is all about adding the final flourishes before doors open the next morning. There are always minor hiccups, even with the best planning. You have to adapt and be agile in the moment and we learn lessons every year!

This year is lining up to be another busy event and whilst it’s hectic, we’re looking forward to arriving in Hamburg to get the show on the road. 

To book a meeting with our team to talk all things emergency exit and cabin lighting and be among the first to experience our new product, please register your interest here.

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