When you are faced with a huge industry event attended by 35,000 contacts, featuring at least 350 speakers delivering 300 hours of content, and more than 650 stands covering over 70,000m2 and providing launches, demos and offers on more than 10,000 products, you need a strategy.
So, if you have only one day to invest in this year’s UK Construction Week, 9-11 October at the NEC, what should you prioritise?
Here are five good ways to navigate UKCW, specifically the Build Show containing four dedicated areas: Offsite; Roofing, Cladding and Insulation; Tools, Health and Safety; and Doors, Windows and Glass.
1. Go for the new stuff
Ninety percent of visitors to the UKCW say they are there to source new products and suppliers. Four new areas have therefore been added to this year’s show, with more than 100 exclusive product launches covering innovations in offsite construction; doors, windows and glass; roofing, cladding and insulation; tools and health and safety.
For the cutting edge inspiration, head to the Future of Construction Hub, providing an immersive experience of digital construction, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and experimental methods of construction.
The Digital Construction Hub will update you on all things BIM, and follow the UKCW Innovation Trail – a self-guided tour around selected exhibitors with amazing new things to show off.
Or why not create your own tour? Arrive at the NEC an hour early, make yourself comfy in a coffee area and use the floor plan and show guide to map out a bespoke route through the halls to ensure you get to see all the brands you want to see.
2. Go for the big hitters
The UKCW Stage will see some keynote presentations from UK and international speakers and celebrities you might not otherwise get another opportunity to meet.
So why not choose just one day to camp out at the big stage in the centre of the show to meet and listen to the likes of Barbara Res, the trailblazing engineer who will spill the beans on working with Donald Trump during the years when she project-managed the construction of Trump Tower.
Or join BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern for hard-hitting discussions on housing policy, quality and how we stop future building failures, the digital future of construction, diversity and political correctness in the industry, economic forecasts, Brexit and the Government’s proposed new quality mark for home improvement and low energy retrofits.
3. Go for the learning
If that is possibly a bit too political for your tastes, the best bet is to get into the show’s free, fully accredited CPD sessions. But watch out – there are more than 35 to choose from and pre-booking is essential.
The BRE Academy will be hosting CPD workshops on BIM, offsite construction and urban planning and design; OM Group is holding health and safety CPD sessions on its stand; the Access Industry Forum is delivering working at height CPD sessions; and there are also specialist seminars in the Regeneration Hub and the Offsite areas of the show.
4. Go to do deals
The point of attending many trade shows is to come away with new business. For three days, the NEC becomes the building industry’s biggest marketplace under one roof. Key exhibitors at this year’s show include Containex, Extenda Line, Hekim Yapi, Kensington Traders and Velux.
But to save hanging around on stands or chasing people around the show, make sure you book online in advance to arrange your meetings with exhibitors. This will save you lots of time.
5. Go for the networking
Finally, remember that UKCW is also one massive meeting place. Network with customers, suppliers and industry influencers, or even grab a beer with a competitor.
Or choose the informal route – after all, the Beer Festival is bigger than ever this year. Sponsored by Velux, this area features amazing street food, live bands, a gin and fizz bar and rockaoke. FIX Radio will be broadcasting from there from all three days. There is also a central bar in Hall 11, sponsored by the Elliott Group and the Timber Bar in Hall 9 sponsored by Germany Trade & Invest. Where better to meet up with old friends.
So get planning now. Keep up to date with the latest information via the website and Twitter at @BuildShow or using the hashtag #BuildShow2018.
Free visitor tickets are available at www.buildshow.co.uk.