Here are 13 things to do before you go to BETT.
Although I've written the following with BETT in mind, most of the points will apply to getting ready to go to any conference.
- Register online at http://www.bettshow.com. Doing so will save you time because there are two entrances: one for ticket-holders and one for non-ticket-holders. The latter line moves much more slowly than the former.
- While you’re on the site, pre-book seminar sessions (where you can). This will cost a bit of money, but will help you avoid disappointment.
- If you are coming from abroad, go to the International Visitors section of the website in order to find out which exhibitors there are active in your own country, so you can follow up afterwards.
- Also, try out the planning tool. It’s quite impressive: you tick a number of boxes to say which areas you are interested in, and then it gives you a PDF file containing a floor plan, a list of stands you should visit, and a list of seminars. The only thing is, it does not seem to list the stands in a very efficient order. Therefore…
- … Plan the most efficient route around the show. The aim is to minimise the amount of unnecessary traipsing around you have to do.
- Print (or buy) a set of business cards. These are essential for entering competitions and, more importantly, for having information sent to you after the show. Also, of course, for exchanging details with any new acquaintanceships you make at the show. You can create a simple business card in Word (or similar), and you can buy perforated business card printer paper at a very reasonable price.
- Buy a small stapler. This is useful for stapling your business cards to various forms on stands, such as the ones they provide for entering competitions. For some reason, exhibitors never seem to have a stapler themselves. Completing the same contact information over and over again is tedious and time-consuming.
- Prepare lists of questions to ask the suppliers of particular products, if you are looking to purchase something. Different members of your team may have different questions, as suggested earlier.
- With your team, decide on who is going to do what (if others are going as well). It is a good idea to avoid the temptation to fill every waking moment. I have found that you need to allow for serendipity, especially as some exhibitors are not listed until the last minute. I have also found that every so often you need to find a place to have coffee, think about what you have seen, plan ahead, and get rid of any unwanted paper you may have acquired on your travels.
- Organise cover lessons if necessary.
- If technicians will be attending as well, try and select a day when the school’s computer facilities tend not to be in high demand, just in case something goes wrong.
- Prepare a list of phone numbers that the school secretary or someone else can contact for help if something dreadful happens.
- On the way to the show, buy a bottle of water, because show prices tend to be higher than outside.
More tomorrow. Look at all the articles about BETT 2010.