The NEC (National Exhibition Centre) on the edge of Birmingham is literally on our doorstep (just 16 minutes away from our office and workshop). It is the largest Exhibition set of Halls in the UK – covering a staggering 611 acres with 20 huge halls. For any supplier such as ourselves, the first time we turned-up for a delivery was a tad daunting.
For the general public, attending a show, exhibition, concert or fayre, the walk (or bus ride) to the various main Halls is a fairly long one but an easy one and well sign-posted. The NEC car parks are enormous, no; ginormous and dozens of them (so it seems)! For suppliers, we naturally enter and approach the Halls from a different way – via Gate 12 in the north section – the Tradesmen’s entrance!’ Once the obligatory Health and Safety paperwork is duly filled-in, one enters through the north gate and then onto a ring-road around the ‘back’ of the NEC (National Exhibition Centre).
Each of the NEC’s Halls are well sign posted with very wide access points. There are usually dozens of Long Wheel vans, contractor vans and artic lorries whizzing around, backing-up and parking all over the place. As long as you know where you are going – everything is fine and the traffic moves without a hitch.
One good thing about the NEC is their security and Traffic staff. They are on-the-ball. No one is allowed into any building (from the trade side) without a pass or ‘piece of paper’. It can be a tad frustrating (as I found out on my very first day of a delivery) not to have the right paperwork or ‘official’ in-tow to let you in. I waited that first day almost half an hour to get into the Hall I had to be in – waiting for my client to vouch for me and let me in! The next day (and subsequent days) I knew the form and made sure I had the right piece of paperwork and passes!
Another great thing about the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) is getting to know people. As they say, it is not what you know but whom you know. Although one may have the right paperwork (imperative), if the security guards recognize your face it certainly cuts down a lot of time, effort and speeds up things no end.
Setting up a Vodka Luge or Ice Sculpture at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) is like any other venue in the country with the one big exception; one can walk miles to get to the stand you need. Our hydraulic trollies have good sets of wheels making this part of the job easy. Ice companies that use sack-trollies or carry the sculptures in by hand must suffer from real back-ache!
The NEC (National Exhibition Centre) is one of those great venues we love (and regularly) deliver to; It is close, easy and because we know people and what to do – it is (at times) a real joy. Roll on the next exhibition!