We’ve been going to BETT for many years now, and over the years we’ve gained some valuable experience when it comes to surviving the show. So whether you’re an exhibitor or an attendee, we’ve put together a BETT 2017 survival guide, complete with some of our top tips for getting the most out of the show.
- Plan your visit
BETT is the biggest education technology show in the world. So walking into the massive ExCeL London unprepared can be a bit daunting. There are 754 exhibitors at BETT 2017, along with countless seminars and talks occurring every half an hour across the 4 days. So it really makes sense to get a good idea of who and what you want to see beforehand. You can use the BETT website to browse and filter the exhibitor list as well as the BETT app to save your favourite exhibitors and events. You can also use the Agenda page on the BETT website to filter seminars based on your position, which is a great way to find the content that’s relevant to you and the issues you care about.
- Don’t buy coffee
There’s loads of stands that offer free coffee. Loads. And quite often they have a proper barista manning their coffee machine (as we did last year), so save yourself the trouble of queueing and paying for a Costa. Sniff out the stands with the best coffee and fill your boots.
- Don’t eat at the ExCeL
The food places in the main concourse (or “boulevard” as they like to call it) get absolutely rammed during lunchtimes (around 12 til 2) and you’ll struggle to find a seat. Take it from a person who’s tried to eat katsu curry from her lap and spent a well-earned break, after 4 hours standing up, sitting on a cold floor – it’s not a great experience. Not to mention that it’s freezing in the main concourse and the cost of food is extortionate (the price is rarely justified). If possible, try and eat offsite. If you head right out of the ExCeL towards the Customs House DLR station, there’s a plethora of great restaurants and pubs that’ll provide a bit of respite from the bustle of the ExCeL. Here’s our faves:
- Tapa Tapa – tapas (I personally recommend the Croquetas de Jamon)
- Fox ExCeL – traditional pub grub
- China Palace – we normally plump for Set Menu C or D
These places are also great for a spot of dinner if you’re staying over.
- If you absolutely have to eat at ExCeL, try one of these places
- Panini Pronto – a little gem I discovered right near the West Entrance last year. Loads of variety and not too expensive
- A little Japanese food stall that was right in the middle of the hall that I can’t remember the name of or find online – katsu curry. That is all. I hope it’s still there this year
- Square Pie – you can’t beat a pie
- Don’t try and see everything
This is kind of related to tip number 1, but a salient point nevertheless. As I’ve mentioned, BETT is a huge event, so there’s no chance you’ll be able take in absolutely everything, especially if you’re only there for a day or two. Make a numbered list of what you really want (or need) to see (with the most important at the top), start at the top and work your way down. Don’t worry about missing stuff. It’s impossible not to.
- Wear comfortable shoes
Kind of speaks for itself. The ExCeL is big. You’ll be on your feet all day. Wear your most comfortable pair of shoes, regardless of fashion. Again, I speak from experience (one year I wore a pair of cheap black dolly shoes. I don’t think my feet have ever quite recovered).
- Bring lip balm
Extended periods spent in the ExCeL’s heavily conditioned air can lead to very dry lips. Invest in some Vasoline or Nivea and smear it on like there’s no tomorrow.
- Arrive empty handed
You’ll be picking up a lot of freebies. Some of them great, some of them not so great. Either way it’s a good idea to avoid bringing bags or heavy coats you’re going to have to take off and carry. Leave your paws clear for grabbing as many stress balls, pens and free doughnuts as you can.
No one wants to run out of phone battery. Especially not when they’re at an exhibition potentially miles from home. So either bring a portable battery pack, or if you don’t have one, look out for stands who offer free charging (many do!). And even if they don’t, you can always pretend you’re looking at one of their shiny new laptops and just plug yourself in for 10 minutes! Don’t tell anyone we told you that.