It’s even more tiring if you’re visiting from elsewhere in the UK, or even abroad, so Joe Mathewson, founding partner of learning platform Firefly gives you a rundown of everything you need to know for surviving Bett
1. Getting there
Firstly, you’ll need to allow plenty of time to get yourself to the venue. The nearest station, Custom House, is quite far from central London and the main rail stations, so use an app like Citymapper or Google Maps to work out your route.
Assuming that you’re coming from the Jubilee Line, you’ll need to change at Canning Town for a train towards Beckton – the station gets really busy in the mornings so expect to have to wait there. Confusingly, two platforms at Canning Town separated by an escalator both have trains going to Beckton, so just ask staff when the next train is coming, and don’t get the trains for the airport. If you don’t mind the walk, you can walk for 20 mins from Canning Town to ExCeL itself.
There’s a good range of (slightly pricey) hot and cold fast food available at ExCeL but it gets incredibly busy during lunch. Eat a big breakfast and try to have a late lunch to avoid the lunchtime rush. If you’re on a tighter budget, there is a Tesco about 5-10 minutes walk out of the exit towards Prince Regent, or do as pupils do and bring a packed lunch.
3. Keep comfortable
The venue is enormous and there will be lots of walking. Aim to get there early, the days start at 10am, so wear a comfortable pair of shoes and bring a bottle of water. It’s usually more convenient to use the cloakroom, rather than carting heavy luggage around the show with you. Make sure you bring lots of business cards in your bag and a pen, though you can easily pick up freebie pens from many stands.
4. Make a plan
Given that there are hundreds of exhibitors and over 35,000 other education professionals attending, you should create a loose itinerary to avoid getting lost in the tide of promotional leaflets.
It’s definitely worth doing some forward planning and making a list of who you’d like to see before the show, the Bett website is a good place to start or have a browse on Twitter to see what people are talking about. Don’t forget to allow yourself a little ‘wander time’ so you can come across things you weren’t expecting.
5. Meeting others
Going to Bett with others keeps things interesting as they usually spot things you haven’t seen, and you can swap notes with your friends or colleagues after a talk or visiting a stand. If you are arranging to meet someone there, pick a specific place (maybe a restaurant in the corridor) as ExCeL is very large and can be disorientating.
6. Try for yourself
One of the best ways of getting a feel for a product is trying it for yourself. Avoid long demo presentations and try to get hands on with the products you are considering for your school. The show is dramatically quieter at the end of each day so if you want more one on one time, it’s a good time for it.
Joe Mathewson is a founding partner of learning platform Firefly (www.fireflylearning.com). Firefly will be at stand C221 at BETT 2015.