CES 2014: Planning, Prepping, Pondering

It’s that time of year…one month away from the most intense, incredible 3-days the consumer electronics industry puts on. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest, most lavish trade show of any industry, with manufacturers from every corner of the globe descending on Las Vegas.

CES is welcoming, but also intimidating for the untrained attendee. Photo courtesy DigitalTrends.com

Each year, I take in the show for about 18 hours and then get out of Vegas as quickly as possible. While it’s almost impossible to see every product CES has to offer, there are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t miss what you’re hoping to see:

* Just Like Santa, Make a List and Check it Often – The show website offers a great resource where you can vet exhibitors and search for your ideal targets by category. With contact info from manufacturers, you can set up meetings and learn more about a specific company, all from the comfort of your computer, phone or tablet.

* Focus On Specific Industries – CES consumes not just the Las Vegas Convention Center, but several hotels, restaurants and facilities up and down the strip. Therefore, if you’re looking for a wide range of products, you can end up doing a LOT of walking. The show tends to group similar products, industries or companies together, so if big names in CE is your thing, aim for the Central Hall. Startups? North Hall.

* Pack Plenty of Patience – CES pulls in north of 150,000 attendees every year, and they all seem to be at the show the same time I am. Getting through the crowds to see the latest gadget can take some time, so be prepared to feel like you’re in a cattle corral as you line up to see your favorite products…chances are, a few other thousand folks want to see it, too.

* Don’t Forget Comfy Shoes – My first year at CES, I logged my steps and powered my way to 2.75 miles walked around the show floor…in dress shoes. My mile-to-blister ratio was 1-to-5. Needless to say, since that first experience, I’ve always rocked comfy shoes, regardless of how fashionably absurd they seemed. If nothing else, running shoes with dress slacks are a good ice breaker when talking with a product manager!

CES isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure.  You need to be affiliated with the Consumer Electronics industry in some capacity in order to attend the show. For me, I’ve gone as both attendee and exhibitor. It’s an amazing experience where the future of technology is on display for all to see. Innovations come and go, but one thing remains constant – CES is the king of trade shows, and we are all loyal servants.

See you in Vegas, baby!

Heading to CES? Let’s connect and try to cross paths. Send me a message, or connect via Twitter – @davesniadak

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