We have a confession to make: we love the monthly SB2 Symposiums as much as our loyal attendees do. Today was no exception. Rick Piccolo, President & CEO of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and Dave Sanford, Deputy Executive Director of Port Manatee captivated the audience (and even our moderator, Wes Roberts) with insights of these valuable resources to our region.
Today’s topic, Connecting to the World, welcomed a rare peek-behind-the-curtain on operation of the airport and port for many in attendance. Learning how the airport prepares for a potential crisis and the process required of the port when receiving shipments was a thrill. Particularly notable was the comparison of the airport and port as isolated municipalities. Complete with law enforcement, transportation and a governing body, both entities are comprised of a multitude of moving parts and provide a host of employment opportunities for local citizens.
Going beyond the infrastructure of both entities, Mr. Piccolo and Mr. Sanford shared a great deal about their vision of the airport and port – and referenced upcoming changes in each sector that could affect the Sarasota and Bradenton area operations. An upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015 presents a pivotal change for ports nationwide. Preparing now to accommodate an influx of shipments is in Port Manatee’s interest.
Mr. Piccolo noted that a surprising 12% of all passengers welcomed into the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport are traveling from another country. Maintaining a standard of excellence while meeting standard regulations is of the utmost importance. In reflection of the event, Mr. Piccolo said, “I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the airport’s structure, financial condition and place in the global economy. The audience was fully engaged and it was a great opportunity to discuss current issues in aviation from Ebola, to security and the overall travel experience.”
Although we are not surprised, both Mr. Piccolo and Mr. Sanford noted that a high level of customer service is what sets the airport and port apart when it comes to competition. Wes Roberts, moderator of the symposium said, “when traveling into the SRQ Airport after having multiple connections, you get the feeling that you’ve just stepped into a warm hug.” Port Manatee also prides itself in the manner they do business. When working with a potential client of Port Manatee, Mr. Sanford said, “since tariffs are set by an area standard, what sets us apart is they way we do business.”
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to today’s panelists and to Blalock Walters, P.A. the October event sponsor, and IMG Academy, the SB2 Bradenton series sponsor.
For photos from the event, visit www.clicksrq.com/SRQEvents.
Don’t miss the next SB2 on November 20, 2014 at 7:30-9am on International Travel Tourism & Business, at The Francis in Downtown Sarasota. For event details and tickets, visit www.srqsb2.com.