The ULTIMATE Guide of Drone Events & Factors for Choosing the Right Show.
There has been an explosion of drone events, expos, and shows all around the world. With the flurry of activity, it has been difficult to track which events to attend. It has also been equally difficult to determine which ones to attend. I created this page to list out which drone events, workshops, shows, events, conferences there are around the world and also provide you some tips in determining which ones to attend.
If you know of a show, event, workshop, etc. NOT on here, contact me so I can add it! Also, keep in mind that there are other lists on the internet that have this information. The problem is most looked like they just copy and pasted each other’s text but didn’t bother to look to see if the shows were really going on. (I can prove that because one of them accidentally forgot to change the links so one of the weblinks links back to the other guy’s website. #fail) I did my best to check each one. It was very interesting to see how many shows from 2016 fizzled out.
14 Factors on Choosing Drone Shows:
- Check out their call for speakers page to see if speakers will be compensated (hotel, $, airfare, etc.). If it doesn’t say that, email the conference organizers and ask them. If they don’t give a good answer, email the speakers directly. The proportionality of how they compensate their speakers will directly relate to the quality of speakers and the information imparted to you. Find shows that compensate speakers somewhat proportionally to their time. Most of the conferences don’t comp their speakers more than a ticket or two. Most of the people that have experience or skill to be eligible to become a speaker can make more money staying home working than going to the conference. Let that sink in. For example, a speaker will spend about 1 full workday in traveling back and forth (-the value of an 8 hour workday), several hours preparing a presentation (~2-8 hours), an airplane ticket (~$350), 1-3 nights at a hotel ($100 x 3), and about 1-2 workdays at the conference speaking and meeting people. This puts the speakers in the negative of about 2-3 workdays lost and ~$650. Speakers with clients start doing a quick cost/benefit analysis and realize that they could stay home and make 2-3 days worth of money and keep the $650 in their pockets. This is why the speakers at shows will sell you hard on their services or products to just try and break even. Imagine if the shows picked less speakers and compensated the speakers very well to put on the very best of presentations – for you to learn from.
- Find out if the speakers have experience.
- Some of these shows don’t vet their speakers and let everyone under the sun speak. This results in you listening to posers who are trying to sell you something they semi-know. In other words, they want you to hire them so that YOU can pay for their drone education, not your own. Just jump on Google and search the speaker’s website to see what they do. Check out their Linkedin profile. Do they have experience or are they some fly-by-night drone operator scam artist that is trying to get some money out of you?
- Some of the speakers are not really in the same field as they are speaking. For example, a guy who runs a drone shop speaking on search and rescue, but he has never been out in the field. Go check their website out to see if they do whatever they are speaking on.
- Consider who else is going. This is good so you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner with people you need to meet. This is one reason why some of the higher-end speakers or professionals might be going because all their buddies are going. They aren’t going for business, but for more like a fun get together.
- Is the conference focused on application of drones, or the drones themselves? Christopher Vo, President of the D.C. Drone Users Group, wisely said, “Avoid going to ‘drone’ conferences. Those conferences are all about platform, not application; and are just turning into expensive hangouts for existing adopters of the technology. Go where the applications and unfulfilled needs are – the conferences for industries that need drones but don’t know how.”
- Do you or your family want to visit extended family or sight see the area? This is a great opportunity to fly up, do some business, see the area or family, and fly back while being able to write some of it off as a business expense. Go through the list and see if any family is in the area. Bonus tip! Stay with your family so you don’t have to pay for a hotel. Just make sure you talk with your accountant to properly do it for maximum business write off.
- You are developing a new product/service and want to do a pre-market validation. You could talk with the vendors, speakers, and conference goers to get a bunch of feedback really quickly on your idea or how to make it better.
- You want to have the MOST cutting edge intel on the industry. I have found that whatever is on the internet, Twitter, blogs, etc. was really in the person-to-person area about 1-4 weeks before hand. Keep in mind that not everything even surfaces on the net. There is a treasure trove of certain things that the news outlets, blogs, etc. haven’t picked up but you can find out when you go and hang out with people over coffee.
- Are there other shows going on in that time frame. People get burnt out and don’t go to them all. This means less people for you to meet. In other words, less bang for the buck.
- Have the organizers put on shows before? I have noticed that the shows put on by those that have done shows in the past tend to be better than first timers.
- Consider how big of a pain it is to get to the location. I went to one drone event. I loved it, the people, the location, everything- except the really long car ride to get there from the airport. I mean really long car ride. This means you are going to have to rent a car, carpool, use a shuttle, or take an Uber.
- Consider hitting up a couple of shows in a row. You will notice that some of the shows are around the same time. This means you could fly from one to another which is 1 flight less you have to pay for!
- Ask around! People will tell you if the show was a stinker. Ask your friends! This will save you alot of money, time, and headache.
13. Check out the media presence of the drone show organizers. Are there a lot of followers on their Twitter or Facebook profiles? This means that the show’s turnout could be low.
14. Ask if the presentations are going to be recorded. This is beneficial because (1) you might not need to attend the conference but could just purchase the audio or (2) you can spend a lot of your time networking and listen to the talks after the conference.
How to Read the Information Below
- This is the format of the information (Date)(Location)(Name)(Website)(Coupon Codes & Notes)
- I don’t include prices because they can fluctuate. I’m not constantly checking the websites for changes.
- The show might be purely drone or could be mixed. Meaning some shows might have a drone area, but the whole show isn’t dedicated to drones. Examples would be NAB, CES, etc.
March 2nd Annual Public Safety UAS Conference, 5-7 April, Crozet, Virginia. 3rd Annual FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium, March 6- 8, Baltimore, MD. http://faa2018.auvsi.net/home NATIONAL DRONE EDUCATORS CONFERENCE: AERIAL PATHWAYS FROM THE TOP DOWN, March 16-17, Saratoga, California. Unmanned Cargo Aircraft Conference, March 20, North Carolina Global TransPark. https://unmannedcargoaircraftconference.com/ April National Association of Broadcasters Conference, April 7-12, Las Vegas.
- The Silicon Valley Drone Show, April 25-27, San Francisco, California. http://susbexpo.com/
- AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019, 29 April -2 May, Chicago, Illinois.
- International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems, June 11-14, Atlanta, Georgia.
- Energy Drone Coalition, June 12-13, Woodlands, TX. (Use code “RUPPRECHT20″ to get 20% off).
- I buy my tickets on Thursday mornings using Google Flights. I have noticed that has seemed to provide the best prices. I try and buy the tickets about 1-2 months out.
- Make sure you buy them on a good credit card. Some do a percentage back while others do points. If you don’t fly frequently, I would just get the percentage. Another reason why you want the credit card is some of them have travel insurance if you miss a trip. Some also have insurance in case you die in the airplane crash. Perfect for your wife so she can purchase the Phantom 5 and fly away her sorrows.
- Get those blue hospital foot booties for when you have to walk through the scanners at the airport. Those floors are sooooooo nasty and I don’t want my feet touching that floor. When I do this at airports, I get alot of positive comments from TSA about this being a smart idea.
- Get a hard business card holder to make sure your cards are crisp.
Tips on Packing:
- Ties should be rolled up and placed in some tupperware. You can generally get 2 ties into one.
- When you get on the flight, ask the stewardess if you can put your jacket in their little mini coat rack. This way you are only wearing your dress pants. Here is a great tip: in Las Vegas, this is a single person handicap bathroom on the first floor near ticketing in one of the terminals. It is a super great place to change before or after a conference.
- You can pack a suit in a carry on. There are a bunch of Youtube tutorials out there. Just remember to iron out your jacket before you wear as sometimes it can wrinkle.