What to Know If You’re Attending the Consumer Electronics Show

Regardless of the time of year or what’s going on, Las Vegas can be wild, to say the least. For example, car accidents occur in Las Vegas more than any other part of Nevada. 

What to Know If You’re Attending the Consumer Electronics ShowPhoto credit: Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay 

That craziness and also potential risks tend to increase around certain times of year, including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The CES is where more than 175,000 people head each January to keep up with what’s going on in technology and electronics. 

Sixty-one thousand of last year’s attendees were from outside of the U.S., and more than 4,400 companies exhibited in a total of 2.9 million square feet of space.

It can be overwhelming to attend the CES, especially if it’s your first time. The following are things to know and tips to keep in mind. 

An Overview

The CES is the largest trade show in Las Vegas, and the 2020 show takes place from January 7 to the 10th. The tech trade show is the largest in the country, and it’s held at 11 venues across the city, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate, The Venetian, Palazzo and the Wynn Las Vegas among others. 

This year’s show will include more than 300 educational sessions on topics such as data-driven marketing, which is a new addition. 

Show organizers also say this year’s show will focus more on travel and tourism-related technology. For example, Ed Bastian, who is Delta’s CEO is going to deliver the opening keynote and discuss how tech is affecting travel. 

Technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence are also going to be in the spotlight at this year’s show.

Show admission costs around $300 for access to certain sessions and keynote addresses as well as access to the show floor. If you want the full experience, tickets are around $1700. 

Air Travel

During the week of the CES, McCarran International Airport adds around 49,000 seats, both inbound and outbound, many of which are on international flights. It’s estimated that the trade show will have an economic impact of around $291 million in the city. 

There will also be shuttle buses that the city brings in to help people get from venue-to-venue during the CES. 

Making the Most of Your Time There

If you are attending and you’re spending a fair amount of money, you want to get the most out of your experience. The following are some tips to help you do that.

  • Download and use the CES app. The app helps you plan what marketplaces and exhibits you want to see and how to get to them. 
  • Even with the app, you might want to get the exhibition directory and find the exhibits most relevant to you so you can figure out how to get from place-to-place in the most efficient way. If you don’t plan your route ahead of time, it’s going to be pretty tough to figure out what’s most relevant to your company. 
  • If you’re attending with multiple people from your company, a good strategy is to split up and cover more ground. 
  • Don’t get sucked into only the fun things. You’re there for a reason, which is likely business-related, so prioritize that beyond focusing too much attention on the buzziest exhibits.
  • Try to plan your trip so that you get into town the day before it starts, and you leave the day before it ends. This will help you beat some of the airport crowds. 
  • There is a monorail in Las Vegas you can use in addition to shuttle buses, so learn the route and the stops for this as well. 
  • Travel light. Along with the convenience factor, there are concerns about terrorism and similar issues, so you can only bring two small bags, the equivalent of laptop bag-size into the show. Members of the media get an exception but they have to go through a search and their bag has to be tagged for approval. There may also be random security checks. 
  • You should not only think about what you want to see, but who you want to contact and network with ahead of time. There will be members of the media, investors, and attendees, and you may want to talk with specific groups of people, so be strategic and plan out how to make this happen. If you can, book meetings ahead of time and try to always book them in the same spot so that you don’t have to move back and forth too much to make them happen. 
  • The CES can mean a lot of partying is going on—try to resist the urge to participate in too much of this. You won’t be able to make the most of your time there if you’re feeling under the weather after a night of partying. If you want to enjoy your time, think about doing something like a show or participating in the cocktail parties but skipping the late-night club sessions. 
  • Rather than taking collateral from every booth that you visit, take pictures so that you can travel light. 
  • If possible, don’t stay for more than three days. Vegas is very stimulating which can be overwhelming and exhausting if you stay any more than three days. Try to limit your time there because once you hit that three-day point, the value you get from being at the show might start to plateau. 

Finally, if you are going to the CES, make sure you set very clear goals for yourself that will help you stay on track and avoid distractions. This includes not only goals for what you want to see and who you want to meet with, but define the business value that you hope to achieve by attending. 

The CES can go one of two ways. It can be a time where you feel inspired and ready to start the new year armed with what you saw and learned, or it can be draining and feel like a waste of time if you’re aren’t strategic in how you approach it.