BETT 2: No such thing as free….Survival tips for #BETT


It’s just past Christmas, a time for reflections on Dickensian masterpieces such as….A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, which led me to reflect upon the conduct of delegates at BETT 2012.  To be blunt I was staggered and disgusted at the rude, dishonest and deceitful way that DELEGATES behaved.  Here is some of what I have witnessed:

The Badge Scam:

Delegates turned their badges around to make them impossible to scan or read, meaning that the vendors (you know, the muppets who pay so much for a stand top promote their business and enagage with educators in discussions about their product, the buffons who actually make BETT possible.) find it impossible to read the badge and establish if the delegate might find their product of use.  Thankfully the BETT team now make sure the badges are printed on both sides.

The Artful dodger Scam:

This is where the delegate sneaks onto a stand provided by a vendor (you know, the muppets who pay so much for a stand top promote their business and engage with educators in discussions about their product, the buffons who actually make BETT possible) on the blind side of the vendor team and reach around the people having a conversation, extend a hand and grab whatever is available, including sometimes the lunch of the vendors themselves.  Some people seem happy to do this wearing a badge stating their school name and role.

The ‘I’m above discussions with Vendors’ Scam:

These people are amongst the most naive and irksome at BETT.  They come to the event, paid for by Vendors (you know, the muppets who pay so much for a stand top promote their business and engage with educators in discussions about their product, the buffons who actually make BETT possible) and refuse to engage with any of them, on the basis that Vendors are dishonest, profit is dirty and is stealing from the mouths of children.

The flaws in the profit is dirty argument:

1) Teachers pay recycled tax.

  • Profit generates wealth.
  • Wealth generates taxation.
  • Taxation pays the wages of Teachers.
  • Therefore, teachers pay is in fact recycled profit.
  • So, for a teacher to earn £35,000 and pay £5,500 in tax, a business has to generate £175,000  of PROFIT and pay 20% of that in corporation tax.

2) Profit encourages innovation

  • If you remove profit for the education industry, you will remove any incentive to innovate.
  • No new software & hardware will be developed & sold to schools because there would be no reward.
  • Your children will suffer if innovation stops.

The ‘I’m a victim of unscrupulous vendors’ scam

It is easier to blame them than yourself.  If you bought something that is crap, its your fault.  A professional would make an informed decision, but you couldn’t do that.  But never mind, you do have 35 pens you dont need and a bag from FROG.

The BETT Covenant:

Remember the following:

  • You are coming to a tradeshow.
  • You are coming to enjoy the networking possibilities facilitated by the Vendors who make BETT possible
  • Your school benefits from the investment and creativity of the ICT in education industry.
  • You are visiting stands and talking to human beings.  People who bleed and feel and are just trying to earn a living.
  • Nothing is ‘free’. When you steal from a stand, you drive the cost of the product up.
  • If you leave BETT and know nothing more about the industry and possible innovations or opportunities to achieve best value, YOU HAVE SHORT CHANGED YOUR KIDS.
  • If you turn up to BETT and network without having any conversations with vendors, you are NOT upright and decent, you are a parasite.
  • The free stuff is there to incentivise a conversation, if you want free stuff, have a conversation.  It’s basic humanity, not rocket science

Here’s a link to a  blog suggesting  several brilliant ideas  about twitter names and talking to small vendors but also humourously exposing some  despicable, dishonourable and duplicious behaviour that teachers attending a professional event should not even consider.  If you think it is funny, ask yourself why, and if kids did this to you, what would you do?  If you think this is funny, you perpetuate all that is worst about our profession and enable me to write a 2014 version of this. “How Dare You?”

12 thoughts on “BETT 2: No such thing as free….Survival tips for #BETT

  1. Pingback: Ian Addison's Blog » Blog Archive » BETT for Beginners 2013

  2. I’ve worked both sides of the BETT fence, attending many years as a delegate, and working the last 6 on vendors stands. I have to take my hat off to this post as it identifies so many very true things about the way people are at BETT. Vendors do indeed pay very large sums of money to attend BETT, and without them there would be no show at all, or it would be a much smaller show and an entrance fee would have to be charged, (meaning far fewer would attend).

    And remember that most vendors have products or services which are genuinely interesting and worthwhile. If the products weren’t then market forces would have driven these companies out of business. This is even more true in the post BSF/austerity years. Of course those products and services may not be right for your school or college or university, but do as Pete says and take some time to talk to people and find out more.

    Great post this… see you all at BETT (I’ll be working on the SMART technologies stand)…

  3. This is a great post, thank you for writing it Pete. I have eavesdropped on a number of scornful twitter conversations recently which have openly maligned BETT exhibitors. – “Avoid eye contact with all sales teams; do not touch anything & say you have NO £££” a recent example from a well-followed tweeter who should know better.

    At Rising Stars we have spent the last 12 months working with schools and teachers, being innovative and (I think) quite brave, as have most all of my BESA colleagues, large, medium and small, who are coping with challenging times (see Matt’s post above). Full credit also goes to those start up companies who are doing amazing things from scratch and will be at BETT for the first time this year. We will all be doing our best to catch your eye and to have a conversation, to sell stuff so that our companies can continue to pay us and can continue to innovate and make new things. The way it is. And we pay our corporation tax into the public purse every year, fair and square. And so the world goes round.

    Oh and,by the way, the amazing range of CPD at BETT is all free this year, thanks to the exhibitors.

    See you there!

  4. Thanks for the post and the link to my blog. Just for the record ‘Please, don’t assume that I’ve done anything in the post.’ I tend to assume that those that read the post are aware of everything I’ve done in partnership with brilliant vendors such as Microsoft, Google, DELL and the like. I also assume that they are professional enough to see through the sarcasm. If people don’t get that, I apologise.

    I agree with all of your points in this post, and have never in fact undertaken any of the ‘scams’ mentioned. In fact, I avoid the free stuff like the plague as it’s too heavy to carry. For example, my point about BETT being a big barn to sell you stuff is aimed at a wake up call to those that think it’s anything different. I also tire of teachers wringing the free stuff out of the system and then complaining when said stuff fails / changes / goes out of business. From experience, conversations with vendors at conferences and trade shows often pay dividends, especially when there’s a chance working with them to improve the product.

    Shame that you didn’t comment over on the post in question.

    Anyway, I’ve got to get on with planning my talks for a vendors stand.

    • Hi David,

      I did comment on your blog earlier, but it wanted me to sign in to something and deleted my post when i did so.

      I missed a word or two, now inserted, I apologise if any offence was caused.

      You are a top bloke doing top stuff, I’ve know this since I first met you at MSPiL in Manchester.

  5. Some key points, Pete, and I’m with Matt and Andrea on this one.

    Too easy to go to BETT with the polarised ‘us and them’ stance that actually does those teachers who adopt it no favours.

    As I wrote 15 months ago on the first ever (I think) official BETT Blog:
    “For me BETT is a wonderful opportunity for an annual coming together of a wider community, where teacher meets manufacturer, supplier meets consultant, and bureaucrat actually gets to see some (albeit sadly too few) children using technology. Our shared faith in the value of learning technologies is reinforced. Old friendships are renewed and new ones made. New technologies are encountered for the first time – even during one of those apocryphal ‘nothing new at BETT this year’ years. Perhaps most importantly, UK plc gets to show the world it is a leader in the development and use of learning technologies, and an amazingly large number of international leaders and practitioners come to learn, admire and buy into that vision. And the buying matters…”

  6. Oh, and for the record… I too am working on a stand again at BETT this year, where one of these vendors (Stone Computers, stand C70) has spent a not insignificant sum of money putting on free CPD sessions for teachers … no catches, no secret agenda… simply because they think it is the right thing to do for teachers attending the BETT Show , and to demonstrate to teachers that they share these value systems!

  7. Loving this post Pete, thanks. Also enjoyed Tony’s comments above and this made me think of his interview with me for my BETT Radio show last year. You can enjoy his interview again here on my Soundcloud service.

    However, the organisers of BETT have decided not to have BETT Radio this year, although we generated a listening audience of over 177,000 from all over the world during our taster shows and 4 day live broadcast from Stephen Heppell’s central feature.

  8. Great post Pete. The free seminars at BETT are paid for by the trade show. The TeachMeet on such a scale is possible thanks to trade show and sponsors and being allowed the space which would normally cost thousands. If the trade show left the seminars would not exist. That “free” CPD is anything but free and every company there puts in huge efforts, money and time.
    The people on the stands work non stop all week and are missing their families. Give them a smile, have a chat. You don’t have to buy everything but you can be nice for free!

  9. Pingback: BETT 3: Child Exploitation #BETT2014 | The Grinch Manifesto

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