When I moved to Florida in 1985 we learned a bunch about the state. Things like we only thought summers up in the mid-west were hot and humid, how to outrun an alligator, and continuing the alligator theme, they have been here for a million years, you are in their backyard not the other way around—and never forget this little tip. Another one, people perfectly capable of driving in their home states are instantly complete idiots when they come to Florida—perhaps it all of the sunshine burning out their brain cells or tropical punches.
The other more important, although not the most scientific item we learned was the economic indicator of the “mouse”. You quickly learned after only a few years in the sunshine state that one of the better indicators of the economy was the parking lot of the “mouse”.
When I first heard this I thought it was a joke and perhaps it was intended to be a joke. However, after many years of being in Florida, and watching the Orlando area, it has proven to be a good general indicator of economic sentiment.
Given the season, a more full parking lot indicated that on whole the economy was good. A family going to the “mouse” or any of the other theme parks is not cheap. Families just do not take these kinds of vacations when times are a little tight or when they are worried about job insecurity. Serious economists would call this tracking discretionary spending. I like calling it the “mouse” indicator better.
So what does this have to do with NBAA? The “mouse” indictor and the NBAA indicator have quite a bit in common. Neither are scientific, but with some careful observations you can gain a lot of knowledge about the future state of the aviation market.
NBAA is always a good way to judge what is going on with the aviation market. The amount of new announcements, the types of displays, and the look of sales people. Do the sales people look comfortable, or concerned? If you are good at observing people you will cut deeper than the corporate message and the optimistic talk and you will peel the onion back to a better picture of their reality.
Many sales organizations have pre NBAA meetings. The tone of these meetings will reverberate back into the core of the sales people. Not making your numbers and the pep talks about needing a good show place stress on the team that will show up no matter how optimistic the smile is and the corporate messaging.
So when you go to Orlando this year for NBAA, observe the faces as much as the message. Go see the “mouse” or one of the other theme parks and spread a little optimism and please if you are going to leave your driving brain at home, take the bus, Uber or Lyft.