Now in its ninth year, the London Vet Show is a two-day conference and commercial exhibition for vets and vet nurses, organised in association with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the British Veterinary Association. (BVA). It’s become well recognised as a go-to event for vets who want to catch up with CPD, gaining essential points, as well as sussing out what products and services are new on the market.
With multiple clinical streams, business streams, sponsor-led workshops and association rooms for debate and discussion, conference delegates are spoilt for choice: it can be difficult to decide what to do.
There are three companion animal theatres, three equine theatres, and two farm animal halls. There’s a sponsored lecture room dedicated to talks on advanced diagnostics, a hall dedicated to specialist topics presented by referral vets, two concurrent lecture streams on business and career development, and there’s a BVA sponsored stream which includes discussions about topical issues that affect vets in practice. There will be over two hundred speakers, covering such a wide range of topics that you are guaranteed to find something of interest and value to your own situation.
And on top of these talks, the show hosts Europe’s largest veterinary exhibition, with over 450 suppliers displaying their wares, eager to talk to you about what they have to offer. To put this into perspective, if you spent ten minutes at each stand, it would take you 75 hours – ten hours a day for over a week.
And as an interesting extra, there’s a new section at the show this year called Vet Practice Live: this is a mock-up of a real vet clinic, from an operating room to a waiting room to kennels, showcasing a range of new products in a real-life situation, to give you a clearer sense of how they will work in real life.
The event only lasts two days, so time is short. I’ve learned how to make the most of these exhilarating events, and here are my top ten tips on how to have the best possible experience.
Plan in advance.
Put two hours aside to carefully scrutinise the full details of the show during the week before the event. There’s no need for a printed programme: the website includes all the details. Read about every event that’s happening, every lecture, every discussion, every debate. Get a full sense of exactly what is going on.
Create a spreadsheet with every hour of both days.
Pick out your top ten lectures, and slot those into the spreadsheet, so that you know you won’t be missing any of your must-do talks. Five hours of intense talks on each day is plenty: it’s difficult to take in much more information than this.
Read as much detail as possible about each of your planned talks in advance.
There is nothing more frustrating to go to a talk only to discover that the topic is not what you thought. So, don’t just stop at checking the titles: read up about exactly what the content is going to be.
Don’t just go to technical veterinary lectures
Make a point of attending at least one business talk, and at least one debate/discussion. Your life as a vet is broader than just being a technical vet, and your experience at London Vet Show should reflect this.
Check the locations of each of the talks
Excel is a large venue, and you need to know how to get from one place to another. Time is of the essence, and you don’t want to waste any time walking aimlessly around while you try to find out the location of your next destination.
Plan slots for more than just lectures
You should now be able to spot the gaps in your day: you need to use these constructively to get the most out of the other aspects of the show that could easily otherwise be missed.
Cherry pick your favourite stands in the commercial exhibition
Go through the list of exhibitors with a fine-toothed comb: what products and services really interest you? Mark each of these stands on a printed copy of the exhibition map so that you know where you need to go
Identify who you want to meet
The London Vet Show is the ideal meeting place for our profession: from manufacturers of new products to service providers to colleagues and old classmates, it’s a gathering that allows many connections to be created or re-established. Decide in advance who you’d like to meet, and contact them to set up a time and a place: there’s no point in spending coffee breaks on your own.
Create a blend of lectures and debates, commercial exhibition visits and meetings
As the final key to planning your two days at London Vet Show, fine-tune your spreadsheet with an hour by hour schedule of how you intend to spend your time.
Social planning is also needed
As well as the two days, you have three potential nights of social activities to fit in: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The Thursday evening is the big one when you have to choose between the party in the NY-LON lounge bar at the O2, or the BVA Gala dinner in the London Marriot Hotel. These evening times are ideal for spontaneous, enjoyable networking with friends old and new. Enjoy them, but remember that you have busy hours of work to get through the following day, so don’t overdo it!
The London Vet Show is an event which is hard not to enjoy: it’s all laid on for you, and all you need to do is to turn up. But with careful planning in advance, you can optimise both the professional benefits and the pleasure that you gain from this exciting occasion.