The FIT Show has moved to annual event; Total Installer Editor Matt Downs caught up with FIT Show Director Nickie West to hear what installers can expect at the May 2020 event…
TI: The FIT Show has reverted to an annual event – what were the reasons behind this, is it because you feel there’s enough going on in the market in terms of new launches, developments in working practices etc. to justify an annual event?
NW: There is absolutely enough going on in the market to justify reverting FIT Show to an annual proposition. We saw a raft of new products, technology, training routes at FIT Show 2019, so much so that we believe an annual platform is needed to help installers keep abreast of these changes.
FIT Show very much started out as an annual show and we have learnt over the last six plus years that this is the formula that works for the show, and it’s what’s needed to secure its long-term success.
There are several factors that we took into consideration before reverting to an annual proposition. And whilst the timing is challenging given the economic backdrop, we could not have delayed the decision to 2021 – we would have risked the future of FIT Show altogether if we’d done that.
We’re conscious that we have a very real need to meet amongst installers who cannot wait two years to source new products, speak to suppliers or keep up-to-date with various training and development routes or legislative changes. FIT Show delivers all of this – and more – under one roof. We’re saving installers time off the tools sourcing all of these things individually and giving them the added benefit of being able to compare products and services, side-by-side.
TI: I see the real value in Exhibitions – but what would you say to those who may look at them as outdated when compared to online, social media and other ways of connecting with suppliers?
NW: I couldn’t agree any less with the statement that exhibitions are outdated compared to connecting with suppliers via online channels. Nothing tops face-to-face interaction or seeing products up close and in person.
Yes, digital and online channels have a role to play as a touchpoint in the customer journey, but the ultimate goal for any supplier is to have one-on-one time with customers and prospects. Exhibitions create a platform for manufacturers and service providers to engage customers and prospects with their products and services in person.
From an installer’s perspective, exhibitions offer a one-stop-shop to meet with every link in the supply chain at once. Exhibitions reduce the overheads of visiting multiple sites and reduces the overall research time to reach a purchasing decision. They also provide unrivalled learning and networking opportunities, exclusive discounts and a chance to see the very best industry showcase.
We’re saving installers time off the tools sourcing all of these things individually and giving them the added benefit of being able to compare products and services, side-by-side
TI: Are visitors able to purchase products on the day? And if so, do exhibitors offer exclusive FIT Show discounts?
NW: So many of our exhibitors, from tool and workwear suppliers through to massive machinery distributors, report record sales on the back of FIT Show. We’ll often have exhibitors selling everything on their stand by the end of the show. We do encourage our exhibitors to create exclusive FIT Show offers to deliver a tangible benefit for our visitors. These are limited time offers and rarely run outside of FIT.
We launched our brand new voucher scheme in 2019 which saw a good number of our exhibitors running offers, competitions and giveaways for visitors and we are building on this for 2020.
We’re launching a digital voucher scheme for 2020 which will make the whole process much slicker. This is another real benefit of exhibitions – we know our visitors are in the purchasing mindset and our exhibitors support this by developing fantastic FIT Show offers.
TI: FIT Show is a huge show attracting visitors from various different positions in the supply chain – how do you set up the show so it works for an installer as well as a fabricator, as well as a self-builder or merchant, as they all have different requirements…
NW: We spend a lot of time researching our audience, their wants, needs, barriers and pain points to ensure that we deliver a show that reflects all of this. For installers, we know that offers, demonstrations and learning opportunities are of great importance to them. We launched our Installer Trail in 2019 to help drive installers directly to the stands that had offers just for them – be that the latest installer schemes, discounts or training opportunities.
TI: What about exhibitors – you cover so many disciplines in terms of product offering, are there any new areas you’re expanding into for FIT Show 2020?
NW: FIT Show 2020 will see a bigger focus on materials such as aluminium, timber and flat glass processing machinery and lifting equipment. However, it’s the presence of smart home technology that we are anticipating will see the biggest increase.
For installers, we know that offers, demonstrations and learning opportunities are of great importance to them
Brands such as Smart Ready, Brisant and MACO really set the bar high at FIT Show 2019, but I’m predicting that we’ll see it raised even higher in 2020 in terms of both the stands and the advances in technology that are showcased. I’m predicting a more prominent display of both smart home technology and the use of virtual reality (VR) technology as a mechanism to bring projects and products to life for homeowners.
And it’s not just our exhibitors that are embracing technology. As event organisers we are constantly looking at ways to enhance the show experience for our exhibitors and visitors. We’ve implemented new scanning systems to help capture data and have added the ability for people to register for the show via social media to speed up the process.
We’re also going to be making our seminars more interactive by introducing audience polls and have been exploring beacon and app technology as a further mechanism to engage with our audience and help them get the most out of the show when they’re on site.
NW: We know that time is precious and that time at FIT Show means time off the tools for installers. It’s absolutely vital that the show delivers value for everyone that visits and it’s our job to plan the right show features, attract the right brands and content to meet the needs of our core audiences. We spend a lot of time planning and developing every element of the show to do just that.
Exclusive show offers, a new and improved Installer Trail, increased demos and refreshed content are just some of the things that installers can expect when we open the doors on FIT Show 2020 next May.
TI: How is the seminar programme developing? What topics will you be shining a light on for installers?
NW: We are once again working with 12th Man Solutions to help develop the learning programmes for FIT Show 2020. The 2019 programme was CPD certified for the first time, the quality of content and speakers was the best yet, but we are committed to building on this for 2020 and beyond.
We spend a lot of time researching our audience, their wants, needs, barriers and pain points to ensure that we deliver a show that reflects all of this
2019’s learning programme was made up of over 20 hours of learning content, with 50 sessions that were developed to reflect the wants and needs of the industry, as well as our broadened audience.
Much like 2019, sessions at FIT Show 2020 will tackle key industry issues such as the skills gap, mental health in construction, legislative changes, eco developments and smart technology. The schedule will offer practical advice through workshops, business clinics and practical product demonstrations.
It’s absolutely vital that the show delivers value for everyone that visits and it’s our job to plan the right show features, attract the right brands and content to meet the needs of our core audiences
TI: There’s a real push to professionalise and raise standards across all sectors in construction; what role do you feel exhibitions can play in this?
NW: There is so much contradictory information out there in terms of which qualifications are required on site, what the best training routes are, how to retrain or upskill. FIT Show is the best platform to bring together all of the key training providers, professional bodies and industry experts to collaborate, advise, debate and showcase the various options for installers.
Our Skills Thursday launch in 2019 created a stage for the skills debate and this will return in 2020. We want to represent all of the key training and qualification providers and are working alongside the likes of Building our Skills, the GGF, FIT for Trade, GQA, FENSA and Certass to ensure that we are delivering the right content for our audience and showcasing all of the routes that are available to them. Anything that raises standards and quality across the industry should, and will, be supported by FIT Show.
TI: Do you feel the glazing sector is slowly changing some of the outdated perceptions the public and in some cases clients / building owners might have of it? Or are we still some way off?
NW: I believe that we have come a long way from the cliched ‘double glazing’ image of the early 2000’s. The prominence of social media and review platforms such as Check A Trade, Google Reviews and such-like have made it very difficult for brands to deliver a poor service without the homeowner taking control and shaming them on these channels.
The recent TV campaign by FENSA is a great example of how we, as an industry, are pushing to raise standards and to create trust and transparency with homeowners. There are so many fantastic companies out there and we must work together to shine a light on the poor ones with the aim of eradicating them altogether.
Don’t waste time – and money – visiting multiple suppliers at different times throughout the year – see them all at FIT Show, side-by-side
TI: If it comes to a toss-up between earning money on a project or visiting an exhibition, most installers would opt for the former, but what would your message be to attract them to the FIT Show 2020?
NW: My message to installers about the reasons to take time off the tools to visit FIT Show 2020 is very simple; FIT Show is your one-stop-shop to meet with every link in the supply chain at once. Don’t waste time – and money – visiting multiple suppliers at different times throughout the year – see them all at FIT Show, side-by-side.
Occupying halls 2 & 3 at the NEC next May (12 – 14, 2020), FIT Show and Visit Glass are set to return with the same award-winning formula that has helped to establish it as the UK’s number one, award-winning showcase for the glass, glazing, windows, doors and conservatories sectors.