For my first international exhibition with BESA, what an experience I got to live!
While most were battling the wind, rain and snow back in the UK, myself and the Events team at BESA flew across to Dubai, landing a couple of days before the 11th annual GESS Dubai exhibition started.
After settling in and getting our bearings over the weekend, we headed over to the World Trade Centre (WTC) on Monday morning to check how the build-up was coming along. This year was the largest UK Pavilion ever to feature at GESS, and even though the mess of build day, you could see the impact it would have! Highlighted by the red carpet, the UK Pavilion stood out from the other areas in the Exhibition. We then left to get an early night and be fresh for the first morning of GESS.
We were all eager to get back to WTC to meet all the exhibitors, check any last minute issues and help set up the stands. The BESA stand was up and running, and ready to support the UK Pavilion. The opening ceremony, from 10 am to 12:30 pm, was really impressive. The afternoon saw a flurry of activity around the BESA stand and the UK Pavilion. Caroline Wright, Director General of BESA, welcomed both the Education Minister and the Sheik of Dubai, to our stand and highlighted the best of British educational resources to them. The whistle-stop tours brought a rush of people quickly snapping a photo and recording the moment.
To relax after a busy first day, Christine Major, Director of Global Solutions at Discovery Education and the chair of the BESA Export SIG, invited the UK Pavilion exhibitors for a drink at the local bar (an Irish pub!). A great way for exhibitors to network with new and returning companies to the exhibition, the evening was a hit with over 60 people attending.
On Wednesday evening, after a second busy day, the GESS awards took place at The H Hotel. There were 14 different awards to be won, from Product Innovation Awards to SME Company of the year, and didn’t they do well! Here is the list of awards won by our wonderful members:
- Best Free ICT/App Product – Promethean (finalist)
- Best Paid for ICT/App Product – GL EDUCATION (winner), Discovery Education (finalist), Emile (finalist), Firefly Learning (finalist), Just 2 Easy (finalist), Learning Ladders (finalist), Pobble (finalist)
- Best Product to Promote Health and Fitness in the Classroom – 5-a-day (winner)
- Best Resource or Equipment – Non-ICT – Spaceforme (finalist)
- Product Innovation Award – Steam/Non-ICT – Spaceforme (winner)
- Product Innovation Award – E-learning/Software/Apps – Discovery Education (finalist), Iris (finalist), NetSupport (finalist)
- Early Years Resource/ Equipment Supplier of the Year – Doodlemaths (finalist)
- Primary Education Resource/Equipment Supplier of the Year – Scholastic Literacy Pro (winner), Learning Resources (finalist), Doodlemaths (finalist), Literacy Planet (finalist), Morphun (finalist)
- Secondary & Higher Education Resource/Equipment Supplier of the Year – Connect (winner)
- Start-Up Company of the Year – Century Tech (finalist)
- SME Company of the Year – Classroom Monitor (winner)
- Multinational Company of the Year – NetSupport (winner), 3P Learning (finalist), Discovery Education (finalist), Promethean (finalist)
The final day came round quickly and brought a slightly calmer crowd of visitors than the first two days. Every exhibitor was collecting their last few leads, and selling any remaining stock they had. Roisin McHugh and Lois Mills, my fellow Events teammates, made their way round to a few exhibitors to get testimonials. Have a look at what they had to say in this video. Towards the end of the day, exhibitors visited the BESA stand to grab their last coffee and share success stories.
For most, travel back to the UK seemed smooth, with only a handful of flights cancelled mid-day on Friday due to the weather. Happy to miss the snow, some of the exhibitors enjoyed the weekend seeing Dubai’s highlights, such as the Burj Khalifa fountain show or going on a safari in the desert.
GESS saw a 10% rise in the number of attendees this year, and we can expect another great exhibition next year. To register your interest in GESS Dubai 2019, please email Lois.