“Everyone should go to CES, at least once” is often heard throughout the 2.7 million sq. feet of the Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas, NV. The Consumer Electronic Show(CES) is the largest conference for consumer electronics products in the United States. Drawing over 180,000 creative and technical leaders from companies around the world, many people believe that not going to CES is the equivalent to starting the year off as slow as Las Vegas’s McCarran airport’s security line on a Sunday morning. In 2019, CES attracted 175K+ attendees and supported 4.5K exhibiting companies and 1K speakers.
If you can push past the awe of being at the center of technology and innovation, the real question is, where should I start in planning my CES adventure? Having been to CES for the past few years, I’m here to share my insights to help you make the right decision for you and your company.
Set your goals
If your New Year’s resolution is to increase your industry knowledge, dive into the session schedule and exhibitor list. Highlight the most significant trends, sessions, and booths that would be beneficial to explore and align with your business goals. With an open mind, you might find the right combination of sessions and products that could collectively drive change to move your business forward.
If your goal is building relationships with new and prospective clients, reach out and see if they will be attending. If asking directly isn’t an option, check out their social media accounts. If the list is long enough, CES could provide a unique opportunity to start, or continue the conversation, and move them forward through the pipeline. By planning and booking meetings in advance, you can help build out your CES schedule and increase the ROI before the event even starts. Plus, you will be more prepared for a successful meeting.
CES is a massive show with 15 conference tracks on a variety of topics, all jam-packed with the latest insights. From immersive technologies and robotics to autonomous vehicles and smart home gadgetry, the range of topics is extensive. Additionally, CES has hundreds of speakers representing companies on a global scale, both large and small, from across virtually all industries. Check out the speaker list and see who might align with your target accounts. If you end up attending, sit in the front of their session and see if you can strike up a conversation before or after the session. It can be tough to stop busy executives, but the forum for sharing information and ideas is what CES is all about, so many are very receptive.
The CES show floor will have over 4,500 exhibitors showing off the most cutting-edge technology and innovation. If you’re there to take it all in, you will come away with a personal, visceral reference for what the future might hold. Taking in each exhibit’s size, location, and attendee engagement can give you a first-hand glimpse at the emerging trends and might even give you a leg up on your competition.
Like all conferences, CES provides unique networking opportunities both built into the event schedule and just in the sheer volume of attendees. The number of brands that are present at CES increase dramatically year after year, and the representative ranges from C-suite executives to the talented teams of designers and technicians. Whether you’re standing in line for a keynote or exploring the show floor, you never know who you will run into at CES. It might just be your next big client.
Once you’ve carefully and strategically considered all the reasons why you should go and how you plan to spend your time at CES, you need to weigh in the cost of attending. On top of your conference pass, there will be travel expenses, hotel rooms, and meals, which add up pretty quickly, especially in Las Vegas. Hotel rooms and flights tend to double and triple their standard booking rates, so book early! And don’t forget to include extra spend for “wining and dining” your prospective clients.