How to survive Bett 2017
Bett is a big show, and one that’s only got bigger with its move to London’s ExCeL. The edtech industry might talk a strong game about social empowerment, but a trade show is a trade show, and walking around for hours in a vast venue can be exhausting.
Yet it’s not only possible to survive Bett 2017, but to thrive and get maximum benefit from the show. All it takes is a little planning, some basic show-smarts and a handful of sensible tips.
Pre-register, plan and prioritise
Not all of us can take a few days to tackle Bett, and if you’re stuck with a single day you need to make the most of every minute. Start by pre-registering for the show. You can still register for free on the website, and it will save you a lengthy queue before you make it into the halls.
While visiting the Bett site, download the 2017 mobile app using the link under Visiting, and start thinking about your priorities. You won’t be able to see everything, so make a note of any seminars or talks you want to see and any exhibitors you want to visit, and use the app to work out where you need to go.
With a little planning you can cluster nearby stands together and avoid trooping aimlessly from one end to the other. You don’t have to plan each day with military precision, but having a few ideas about where you’re going and when will make the whole experience easier on your feet.
Bett isn’t a formal or business-like show, but it’s cold outside, hot inside, and there’s an awful lot of walking to be done. If you need a coat to stop you freezing on your way to and from the show, then leave it at the cloakroom when you get there.
Don’t come dressed in your thickest winter jumper or your summer beachwear and – most of all – wear comfortable shoes. Six-inch stilettos and Cuban-heeled cowboy boots might be fine in your local, but they’ll only cause you agony at Bett.
Use the facilities
By this we don’t just mean the washrooms (though that is probably a good idea) but all the show information and advice provided by Bett and BESA. The BESA Information Point is near to the entrance and a great place to regroup, clear your head, check out the maps and show guides and work out where you want to go and what you want to see next.
Also, keep track of Bett’s social network feeds: @Bett_show on Twitter is updated regularly before, during and after the show.
Stay hydrated and don’t get too hungry
It’s not crucial that you bring sandwiches to Bett; there’s food available at the show and nearly all of it is perfectly appetising. All the same, think about eating a good, healthy breakfast before you come out, then avoid the normal lunchtime rush.
When you’re on your feet all day there’s also a risk that you can get dehydrated, which will only leave you feeling tired and ready to flop. Keep a bottle of water handy while you’re walking the show floor, and stop for refreshments when you’re able to spare the time.
Bring a notebook
Your fancy-pants tablet might be the centre of your life, but bring along an old-school paper notebook and a pen as backup. It won’t run out of batteries, and it’s ideal for making quick notes on the move.
While you’re at it, bring something to hold all the brochures, presentation materials and business cards while you’re on the show floor. You always end up with more than you expect.
Don’t miss out on the events
Bett has so many exhibitors and so many events that it all gets a little bewildering. The temptation is to work the show floor and avoid spending time at talks and seminars. This is a shame, as they a) can be hugely useful and inspiring; and b) you get a chance to take a load off your feet.
Look at the programme, see if there’s anyone or anything that might be constructive for your school, then make time to go. Similarly, don’t miss out on the fringe events. The names might be smaller and the faces less familiar, but sometimes the best ideas you’ll hear all week come from a leftfield source.
To help, we’ve collected the most intriguing talks from the schedule here.
Meet up and mix
Unusually for a trade show, Bett has a real community spirit, and nearly everyone there will be united by an interest in technology and how it can be used in schools. If you have contacts on social media, reach out to them and see if they want to meet up. Take advantage of the opportunity to mix with fellow professionals. You can share your own ideas and experiences, and potentially learn from theirs.
The temptation at any busy show is to keep your distance from the exhibitors, but you’ll get more out of Bett if you engage. If there’s a product you’re interested in, ask questions about it. Find out more about what it does, and how it might be useful in your school. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask for clarification or get some advice.
While Bett may have some exhibitors who are all about the hard sell, you’ll find that the vast majority have a real interest in education, and in how their products or services can help teachers and students do more.
Don’t worry if you’re pressed for time and need to go mid-conversation; exhibitors usually know the score. Swap details and ask to carry on the discussion later.
Bett is crammed to the gills with seminars, workshops, demonstrations and sessions, and they’re great for ideas and advice on teaching with technology, engaging the class, getting more from specific products and implementing innovative classroom strategies.
They won’t all be relevant to you or your school, but sometimes an unlikely subject can – with a twist – become your own big idea. Try to find the time to attend a few sessions, particularly those in Bett’s Learn Live theatres. Who knows what you might come away with?