How to Conquer CES

CES is an amazing, and often overwhelming show. 3 million square feet or more of displays at multiple venues filled by about 180,000 attendees is certainly something to see. Of course you want to go there, but you are concerned about cost, time and return on the investment. How do you handle CES without feeling you overpaid and yet did not see all you needed to?

We can start with how I go to CES. I have been going since the show’s inception with few missed. There are a few folks I know how have been to them all, or as many as me and interestingly they do many of the same approaches as I take.

I arrive on Sunday and always attend CES Unveiled. Unveiled itself is several hundred thousand feet of display usually at Mandalay Bay. It hosts somewhere around 400 or more firms who show an edit of their overall CES offerings (for startups and small firms perhaps all of them), in order to help the media get ahead of the pressure the show causes. You can sympathize as thousands of new products and services are launched and the business and consuming public wants the news day and ate. Unveiled helps by letting the media get a head start also aided by firms putting forth what they think is their best and most compelling offerings.

I also have a clear plan to attack the show. As noted, CES spans not only the complete Las Vegas Convention Center, but also the entire Sands Expo, the Venetian Hotel, the Wynn and Encore Hotels, and the Aria for what is known as C Space where the content folk hold court. Getting around from venue to venue is not easy as the show attendees help a busy city often form gridlock so usually quick trips between venues are not easy. To give you a send, Las Vegas the largest convention city has around 155,000 hotel rooms, but CES brings over 180,000 attendees.

Therefore, I do all I can to plan to spend time in large blocks venue by venue. This is helped as for the most part the CES staff attempts to bring exhibitors of similar verticals into one space ( not all exhibitors cooperate and many maintain that “same old space” so you do find some odd arrays). For example, smart and connected home products and services are mostly at the Sands Expo barring some of the Global firms such as Samsung, LG, Sony who dominate in the Central Hall of the LVCC. Try your best then to schedule your meetings and research in a particular field to one venue at a time and you will get much more free time to see the show.

Consider which verticals you are following. While there is so much of interest you may get delayed or mesmerized by some of the displays, products or services. Again, CES is helpful as they have special interest areas for things like Smart Home, VR/AR, Smart Cities, Resiliency, Vehicle Technology and many more. Take a look first to plan your visits and you will get more return for your time and money.

We go to various events during the show. These include some of the compelling keynote speeches, and events like Leaders In Technology, Entrepreneur events, group parties and others. All of these are not only interesting in and of themselves, but are strong networking events. Keep in mind that the CES founder, Jack Wayman put this show together with the idea that you could meet with EVERYONE you need to do business with in one venue. Considering the time and cost of travel this can make a good CES the most cost effective and highest return of your year. It certainly is for us.

We also have multiple meeting points at CES in order to arrange both scheduled and impromptu sessions during the Show. BlueSalve Partners has a presence at the Z-Wave Alliance booth at the Sands and we also heavily use the various CTA Member Lounges which are at every venue. These not only offer coffee and a spot to rest weary feet, but have meeting rooms that can be scheduled. Many folk find this benefit worth the entire cost of CTA membership, but I think that undervalues it by a mile.

Finally, be sure to see the show itself! Too many I speak to never do. They are glued to their displays, or to the displays of those they work with. They miss entire venues by not scheduling some wandering around time. The show is the chance to get an entire overview of consumer technology, where it is and where it is going. It is easy to see by looking at the crowds and presentations what is gaining or losing traction and to estimate time to market and much more insight.

One more thing, if you cannot go, or you cannot make time to see the show then ask us. We cover the show in its entirety seeing every venue and much more. To go to CES or to miss it without getting the insights and information is a shame, and lets others get a lead on you for the year or years to come. There is a lot to read of course, but a live conversation with those working the show is terrific. We would like to help, so let us know. Schedule a meeting with us at CES here.

Robert Heiblim has more than 35 years of experience in the consumer electronics field encompassing all phases of general management, including management of new technology start-ups, and high growth companies. Along with his teams Mr. Heiblim has developed, marketed and sold hundreds of millions of devices through most global outlets for consumer technology. Robert is the current Chair of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Small Business Council as well as ex-officio Chair of the CTA Audio Board.

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