Destination Birmingham

When the FIT Show opens its doors in May 2017, it will be at Birmingham’s NEC, a venue that will not only offer more space and a more convenient location, but world class accommodation and facilities, according to FIT Show event director, Nickie West.

Promising to be bigger and better than ever, the FIT Show will open its doors to the window, door and conservatory industry at Birmingham’s NEC on May 23-25, and will take the opportunity of a new venue to introduce a raft of fresh and updated features.

In addition to all the exciting new product launches that have become a staple diet of previous events, visitors to the NEC will also experience the largest gathering of aluminium suppliers at any UK fenestration show ever, a gala dinner that’s set to welcome over 1,000 guests and the introduction of ‘Big Tuesday’, which see opening hours extended to 8pm for an ‘after hours’ party atmosphere – plus a revamped Master Fitter Challenge, the FIT Awards, the Installer of the Year competition and an even more impressive seminar programme. Not to mention an assurance from the FIT Events team that the size and quality of this year’s stands will also be the most spectacular yet of course.

However, for all those whose thoughts on the NEC are marred by memories of bad catering and stroppy security, it’s worth noting that the venue has changed considerably in the nine years since the glazing industry was previously represented there. It remains the best connected and most easily accessible exhibition centre in the country, with direct links to both Birmingham’s Airport and its International Railway Station, while its location means that 75% of the UK’s population is just a three-hour drive away.

The NEC has also been treated to a number of new developments in the last five years, from the creation of a new beach area and updated gardens, to the launch of Resorts World, a new leisure and entertainment complex that is said to have turned the NEC campus into a true ‘24/7’ destination.

Opened in 2015, Resorts World not only features a four-star boutique hotel and Asian themed Santai Spa, but an 11-screen Imax cinema, 18 restaurants and bars, 50 retail outlets and even a casino.

It’s certainly come a long way since it first opened for business in 1976 – back then, the International Railway station was still being built, the airport was just a small airfield and the M42 didn’t even exist.

The main reason to relocate the FIT Show to Birmingham for 2017 was the fact that we needed room for the event to grow. We had a 45% increase in visitors to Telford in 2016 and it wasn’t just a case of outgrowing the available floor space either – we’d also overwhelmed the local support services. Many exhibitors were traveling half an hour or more from their hotels, and some exhibitors were even having to park in the town centre. We just didn’t have enough car parking spaces to accommodate 8,500 visitors and around 1,500 stand personnel. Even the gala dinner was a squeeze.

With space for 16,500 cars, not only is the NEC easier to get to, it’s also far simpler to park once you arrive. The accommodation is also vastly superior for exhibitors, thanks to five hotels within walking distance, including the Hilton, Crowne Plaza and Genting, not to mention all the attractions at Resorts World.

The other benefit of having so many hotels on site is that, as well as giving visitors who want to spend more than one day discovering what the show has to offer somewhere fantastic to stay, they will also be packed full of our industry. Which means business and networking can continue long after the show closes each day.

We did have a great relationship with Telford’s International Centre, but since moving to the NEC, we’ve been hugely impressed by the ‘can do’ attitude of our dedicated event team. As a result, I’m confident that visitors and exhibitors will experience even more of the fantastic atmosphere, vibrancy and innovation that they’ve come to expect from the show when the doors open in May.