CES (formerly known as the International Consumer Electronics Show) is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and features hundreds of speakers, more than 200 education sessions and multiple showrooms of exhibitors.
To give you an idea of just how big this show is, the Association reports that CES 2018 involved “more than 4,400 exhibiting companies and exhibit space of more than 2.7 million net square feet.” It was attended by “more than 182,000 industry professionals, including more than 63,000 from outside the U.S.”
Simply put, it’s big—and 2019’s show is expected to be even bigger. There’s far too much for one person to experience, which is why planning ahead is critical. It’s also worth noting that the larger and more high profile the event, the greater the security risk it poses. CES is likely to be one of the most tightly managed and highly scrutinized events of the year in this country, particularly given the recency of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. Security teams both public and private will be out in force.
As an assistant, it can be difficult to make effective arrangements for your executive at an event you’ve never experienced yourself. This quick guide to CES is here to help you help them get the most out of the show.
Understanding Your Executive’s CES Objectives
Before you even begin the registration process, ground yourself by understanding what your executive wants to get out of the show—it may not be walking the floor and attending the sessions.
Ask around to see how many people from your company are planning to attend CES, as it’s not uncommon for companies to send entire teams. Will your team be exhibiting? Making any announcements? Hosting events outside the official venue? Whether or not you’re responsible for making arrangements for all of these people and activities, it’s helpful to know up front how your company’s plans may affect your executive’s own scheduling and travel needs.
- CES Registration
- Starter Conference Pass
- Deluxe Conference Pass
The general CES Registration fee is currently $100 (rates go up on December 17, 2018) and, according to the site, this rate “includes complimentary access to keynote addresses, SuperSessions and sessions in the tracks listed below.”
- Corporate Keynotes
- C Space Storytellers
- CMO Insights
- Enterprise Solutions
- Entertainment Summit
- Future of Work
- Innovation Policy
- Kids@Play and FamilyTech Summit
- NextGen Audiences: Podcasts & eSports
- Research Summit
- Smart Cities
- Smart Future
Starter Conference Pass
In addition to the access provided by the general CES Registration, the Starter Conference Pass—which currently costs $700—adds access to the following four session tracks:
- 5G, Connectivity and Mobility
- Artificial Intelligence
- Smart Home
Deluxe Conference Pass
Finally, the top tier registration—currently priced at $1,400—adds access to the 10 session tracks below to those included in the CES Registration and Starter Conference Pass tickets:
- CONNECTIONS Summit
- Digital Health Summit
- Digital Hollywood
- The Digital Money
- HighTech Retailing
- IoT Infrastructure Solutions
- Printed Electronics
- Service Robotics Arrive in Daily Life
- Wearable Tech Summit
Members of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ are eligible to save 25% on Starter and Deluxe Conference Passes. Two colocated and CME-accredited conferences are also occurring simultaneously: CES Government and Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare.
More information on each ticket type and track can be found here. You may find it useful to provide the breakdown above to your executive to help determine which type of registration they’ll need. If your company operates in the IoT or wearables spaces, for example, your executive will likely get the greatest value out of the Deluxe Conference Pass. Just make sure to register before December 17th to avoid unnecessary price increases.
To register, you will need the attendee’s:
- Date of Birth
- Email Address
- Headshot Photograph (for their event badge)
- Business Credentials
CES is a closed event, which means that, to register, you must prove your executive’s involvement in the consumer technology industry with relevant credentials (such as their name on a business card or company website).
The best lodging option for your executive depends on their objectives and needs.
- Will they need to be at the show multiple days, or will they need to go back and forth often? If so, staying close should be a top priority, as traffic during the event will be horrendous.
- Will they be staying with a large group? In this case, you’ll need to find either a suitable hotel that both offers large room blocks and still has this type of availability or furnished homes available for short-term rentals.
- Will they have other priorities off the Las Vegas strip during their visit? If so, it may make sense to avoid the chaos altogether and consider a high-end home rental farther from the Strip and Convention Center.
If you determine that a hotel is the best choice for your executive, be aware that CES uses onPeak to assist with hotel booking for event attendees. However, while their website allows you to find hotels near the show and make adjustments as needed without penalty, keep in mind that conference housing bureaus are typically made up of the hotels that pay to be there. High end hotels (or just their best rooms) aren’t always included, so be sure to look outside of them as well for other options.
If the space or location offered by a rental home is a better choice, seek out a local rental agent who can help you find a short-term, furnished executive rental in the area that suits your executive’s needs. Be aware that these properties—even the hotels described above—may have minimum rental periods for CES. Even if your executive won’t attend the entire event, you may be required to book accommodations for the entire period.
As with registration, booking early is key—especially if your executive will be traveling with a large group requiring a sizable room block. Spaces at the best and nearest locations fill up quickly, and it’s not uncommon for top properties to fill up as much as 9-12 months in advance.
Travel & Transportation
Depending on the location of your chosen lodging, transportation is a serious consideration, specifically because CES is the largest event of the year in a city known for large events (and it’s not the only event happening at that time). Keep the following factors in mind when making these arrangements for your executive:
- The sheer size of CES means that traffic will be a continual battle throughout the event. Given how long your executive may wind up stuck in traffic, you’ll want to choose a transportation option that enables them to be productive while in transit.
- Booking transportation becomes more complicated if your executive is part of a team attending the event. In these cases, you and your transportation partner may need to juggle requests from multiple passengers, at all hours of the day, since activities run around the clock at CES.
- Things will likely also be more expensive—from car service, to rental fees, to parking permits and more. Keep in mind that many providers will also enforce minimum rental periods running the length of the event. Your executive may be subject to these minimums, even if they’re only planning to attend the event for the day.
- Because of the size and scale of the event, sheer number of high profile attendees, and range of public debates in which participating companies may be involved, CES should be considered a moderate to high risk event; appropriate security precautions should be taken for all attendees.
Remember these general guidelines as you choose between the following transportation solutions:
Executive Car Service
We aren’t exactly impartial, but hiring a car service for the duration of event makes sense. Having a dedicated car at your executive’s disposal limits unnecessary waiting and creates the ideal environment for in-car productivity. Since CES generates a lot of after-hours events as well, you’ll need to consider having multiple drivers to cover round-the-clock service as they days start early and end late.
As they do with lodging, many companies set up standing reservations year after year for their teams’ car service during CES. If you know your company will be there, it’s not a bad idea to consider as doing so ensures your team will have access to the best drivers (or, any drivers they prefer from previous years) and full coverage during what can be a hectic week.
Car rentals are available at CES, and—unlike rideshare or taxi services—won’t require your executive to wait around for a ride. However, be aware that both rental and parking availability are likely to be low and prices at a premium. Traffic will still be a significant factor. But the most important issue may be the added stress of navigating an unfamiliar city during CES-level congestion—something most executives don’t need to add to an already busy plate.
It’s one thing to want to see the self-driving cars Lyft is currently piloting in Las Vegas. Beyond this, however, on-demand rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have some major limitations during an event like CES.
The self-managed nature of these programs means that adherence to service or safety standards may be even more inconsistent from driver to driver than usual. Many are also inexperienced at navigating large scale events, which, due to security and traffic management needs, often introduce street closings and temporary checkpoints to normal traffic patterns and navigation routes.
Rideshare options also typically fail to live up to the experience requirements most executives require, most notably around service, safety and confidentiality.
Unlike the case of rideshare services, traditional taxi drivers must be licensed in Las Vegas, so you won’t have to worry about inexperienced drivers coming in from afar to pick up extra jobs. You can also be sure your driver is a local specialist who knows the best tips and tricks for navigating around the show’s heaviest traffic zones.
However, you’ll still encounter many of the same challenges presented by car rentals and rideshares with this form of transportation. Waits will be long, and cab conditions vary. There’s little you can do to guarantee your executive will have a pleasant in-car experience.
For your executive to get the most out of this event, you need to plan every detail in advance. Take advantage of the abundant information offered on the CES website, including the Conference Program, Exhibitor List, and Floor Plan. These resources can help you determine the best way to schedule their time.
Be mindful that badge pickup has to be the first item on your agenda—and it can take longer than you expect. Plan accordingly. There are, thankfully, several locations for badge pickup, so you can choose the area that best suits the schedule you create.
Also, keep in mind that it’s impossible to see everything at CES. Have a discussion with your executive about which sessions, tracks or companies are most important to them. With 28 different session tracks and dozens of categories for exhibitors on the show floor, there are a lot of choices to make, but these tips can help simplify your scheduling process:
- Check your company-specific itinerary. Is your company presenting? Do team members have events or team meetings that they need to work around? Put them on the schedule so that your executive doesn’t miss them amidst the craziness of the event.
- Use the event Floor Plan and Exhibitor booth numbers to map out the locations of the events and companies your executive most wants to visit. Use that map to create their daily schedule, putting exhibitors in an order that best utilizes the flow of the spaces.
- Keep in mind that the show takes place throughout multiple locations of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Try to limit their schedule to one location per day, if possible. At the very least, limit their travel back and forth.
- Sessions can fill up quickly. Allow for travel time throughout the day, and always plan for your executive to arrive early.
- Book dinner reservations well in advance. Generally, these reservations can be cancelled, but since the nicest restaurants book up during CES, making reservations ahead of time ensures your executive won’t get caught without an option. Consider padding your number of guests by 1 or 2 people so your executive can invite new contacts along (but follow up with the restaurant in advance if things change so they aren’t setting aside unnecessary seats).
- Watch the party schedule. Sign up for the Thomas PR Karennet party list, which—when the 2019 version is released—will give you the inside scoop on all the extracurricular events happening during CES which your executive may want to attend.
You know that your executive will want to meet with many people while at CES, so factor that into their schedule as much as possible. Reach out to the people they most want to meet with during the show, and set those appointments ahead of time—doing so also allows you to make reservations at restaurants, if needed. To accommodate for those meetings you cannot yet schedule, block in some available time each day for your executive to fill with appointments as they come up.
Finally, download the CES app onto both of your phones. The app will provide you with additional information, real-time updates, the event schedule, and a map for wayfinding.
Additional CES Tips
As you make your executive’s final preparations, keep these last tips in mind:
- Your executive will be racking up a lot of travel expenses at CES, not to mention the costs associated with their many business meetings at restaurants and coffee shops. It’s no secret that executives are often too busy to keep good records of their receipts, so you need a better way to track that information. If your company doesn’t already use a system like Concur, try a tool like Expensify, which allows them to snap a quick picture of their receipt and automatically creates an expense report for your use.
- To avoid putting your executive in the position of finding out about a must-see item or event after the fact, follow news, blogs, and Twitter feeds about the show during the event. Each day, give them a quick report of what people are talking about, and what stops they might want to add to their schedule.
- After big events like this—once everyone is exhausted from the sessions, meetings, and walking the exhibit floor—keeping up with new connections can be difficult. Have your executive send you a picture of every business card they get, or use an app like ABBYY Business Card Reader, so that you can start creating a spreadsheet of contacts for them to follow up with before they’re back in the office.
Attending the Consumer Electronics Show is a great investment, but it will be a long and strenuous week for your executive. The more you can do to lighten their load by planning ahead and simplifying menial tasks, the more efficient and productive they can be. Take these tips, and get to planning!
What else are you doing to help your executive get ready for CES? Leave us a note in the comments below.