Interview: Behind the Scenes at BIM Show Live

BtS at BSL 1

The biggest Building Information Modelling event of the calendar is upon us, and we went behind the scenes to take a closer look at the preparation that goes into organising BIM Show Live.

BIM Show Live 2015 is the fifth instalment of the annual BIM conference that attracts 800 enthusiastic delegates from across the globe. We spoke to staff at UBM, the multinational media company who organise the event, about planning the conference and the difficult process of selecting who gets to speak at the event. We also chat to each of the UBM #BSL2015 team to learn a little more about them and what part of the event they are most looking forward to.

Firstly, we talked to Senior Marketing Executive Mike Cockin and Head of Event Logistics Sarah Austin about planning an event of such magnitude, what people not attending will be missing out on, how ticket pricing is decided and why this year’s BIM Show Live will be the best yet.

UBM's Mike Cockin and Sarah Austin. Credit: LinkedIn
UBM’s Mike Cockin and Sarah Austin. Credit: LinkedIn

– What goes into planning an event of BIM Show Live’s magnitude?

SA: Spreadsheets, and lots of them. Everything from budgeting, to judging, guest lists and hotel rooms – you name it! We also have a great deal of negotiations to do with the venue and catering so we offer the best value to delegates.

MC: For me it’s the marketing: emails, the website, social media. I need to know when programme will be announced so I can get it online, printed and let the relevant people know about the sessions that are important to them. This year I worked closely with our designer on developing new creative – I think its worked out really well. I see BIMcrunch changed its plumage too!

– How is ticket pricing decided?

MC: This is always going to be a hot question, in reality we do the math on what we want to provide our delegates, what they expect, and what we can deliver and go from there. The tickets are great value for money; with many single day construction events being the same price as our access-all-areas ticket.

– What criteria did you look for when selecting who was to speak at the event?

MC: The judges look at all aspects of the presentation submission, from who the speaker will be, to the style of the session. We usually set down a few themes we would like to see every year to help encourage entries in those areas – usually the growing areas of BIM such as landscape architecture.

– Why will this year’s BIM Show Live be the best yet?

SA: Last year we moved from London to a more central location easily accessible from most the UK: Manchester Central. We learnt a lot from the move, and this year we can now concentrate on making the programme and event even better without having to sweat the new location too.

MC: We have some really dynamic topics this year, BIM for QSs, lots of asset management sessions for facilities management, and even Health and Safety is getting a look in. It’s exciting how much can really plug into BIM.

I think what makes BIM Show special is the people who attend. It’s a nexus for all those who are using BIM, and the range of disciplines we’re seeing come grows each year. We’re seeing everyone from the early adopters of architects and engineers to those now seeing the advantages such as surveyors, manufacturers, and FMs attend. Being able to connect and learn from this dynamic group is what makes BIM Show great, and it gets better every year.

– There are many new BIM-related events appearing across the AEC landscape – what makes BIM Show Live the best of them all?

MC: Being a dedicated BIM conference allows us to focus on delivering real-actionable content. We don’t discuss what-ifs and theory, but deliver sessions which delegates can take back the following week and use.

The industry-sourced programme is unique, with our judges moderating it to bring in the very best. This allows for the programme to be designed for the people, by the people. It brings in a lot of great speakers on key topics, and engaging presentation which stick with you. We’re also the largest, allowing you to network with BIM users than anywhere else – but we don’t like to rest on our laurels from that point.

– For those not attending, what will they be missing out on?

MC: For a lot of people going to a two day conference will appear to be a big expense and two days out the office, but in fact its really two day training course with the best teachers and peers in the UK. You’ll be missing out on some exclusive case studies from the people who have worked on the projects and hearing from organisations who have been through the challenges you face now, and how they tackled them.

SA: Plus there is the networking; you won’t find such a concentrated gathering of BIM users from across all areas of BIM influence as at BIM Show Live. The BIM Show Party is one of my highlights at the event.

– What will you all be working on after BIM Show Live?

MC: I’ll be helping with The Building Awards on the night, then The National Business Awards.

SA: BIM Show Live is just one of many shows I run; I have another 8 shows to organise before Christmas.

UBM's Natalie Hill. Credit: UBM
UBM’s Natalie Hill. Credit: UBM

Getting to Know Team UBM

 

Sarah Austin – Head of Event Logistics

Part of BIM Show Live you are most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to seeing faces when we have our roaring surprise guest walk the show floor. The BIM Show Party is a great evening, and seeing our delegates enjoying themselves at the end of the first day is always rewarding.

The biggest event you have ever worked on is?

The prize for largest show I’ve ever worked on would be between The National Business Awards, The Building Awards and RESI. They take a lot of management with swathes of judging, VIPs, guests and making sure the night goes without a hitch.

You are an Event Planner, yet what would be your dream event to attend?

I’d love to attend the Oscars, it’s such a famous event and world renowned. I’d end up seeing it through my event organiser eyes and probably spot lots of holes!

Favourite Musician or Band?

Pharrell Williams and George Ezra are in my current playlist, and I’ve also found Nils Frahm recently.

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Natalie Hill – Event Coordinator

Part of BIM Show Live you are most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to meeting all the exhibitors – so far I’ve spoken over email and phone, but not matched a face to the name. Seeing everyone arrive and all our hard work coming together will be great.

The biggest event you have ever worked on is?

The National Business Awards was my largest event to date, with a huge awards ceremony at a five star Park Lane hotel and big celebs, but I only joined UBM last summer so much more to come.

You are an Event Planner, yet what would be your dream event to attend?

I’d love to go the Oscars, or maybe the Benicassim festival in Spain. I’m a fan of sport, so being able to attend any big sporting event like the World Cup where the world comes together to meet would be awesome.

Favourite Musician or Band?

Arctic Monkeys or Bob Marley. That answer is easy for me!

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Georgie Sloggett – Marketing Manager

Part of BIM Show Live you are most looking forward to?

The moment when everyone sits down for the first session and you can breathe a sigh of relief that people have turned up, making the last few months of hard work worth it! And then of course the drinks on the first night!

The biggest event you have ever worked on is?

Decorex International, an event for around 14,000 people held in Syon Park, West London. It is a high end interior design exhibition with 400 exhibitors, very different to BIM Show Live!

You are an Event Planner, yet what would be your dream event to attend?

What events are held in the Caribbean?!

If you could take any two items with you on a desert island, what would you choose and why?

Shedloads of wine and my best friend to share it with. Don’t want to get lonely!

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Mike Cockin – Senior Marketing Executive

Part of BIM Show Live you are most looking forward to?
Lunchtime – not because of the food; but seeing everyone in one space, networking, laughing and learning is really rewarding.

The biggest event you have ever worked on is?

The biggest by numbers is The National Business Awards which saw over 1200 attend the ceremony last year. I worked on the marketing for this and was a really exciting night – plus it’s a great excuse to get dressed up in a Tux.

You are an Event Planner, yet what would be your dream event to attend?

Being a mountain biker I’d love to attend a UCI Downhill race, or even the Red Bull Rampage event in Utah – not every day you see someone jump a 60ft gap whilst doing a backflip on a bicycle.

If you could take any two items with you on a desert island, what would you choose and why?

GPS Unit and a fully charged Sat Phone.

Keep it locked to BIMcrunch as we attend BIM Show Live 2015 tomorrow and Thursday. We’ll bring you the latest live updates via our Twitter account.

RELATED: BIM Show Live organisers: “Get a feel of where the industry is at”

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