Back to the Trade Show – CES Redux

Sign saying 'Welcome to Las Vegas'
Photo courtesy of Pexels.

By Brianne Murphy Miller

COVID upended a lot of the ways we work – remote working became the norm, people talked about the “great resignation,” and handshakes became a thing of the past. Trade shows, in all their schmoozy glory, were major casualties. For a few years, they existed only virtually, if at all, and didn’t have any of the one-to-one connections that, for me, were their best feature.

But now they’re back. CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the world’s biggest trade show, is making a heady comeback, complete with giant exhibit floors and all the glitz and glamour that Las Vegas can muster. Every Monday morning quarterback will have an opinion on “how it did” after the last day on January 8th, but here are a few predictions on changes that will be evident and how to prepare.

  • Fewer international attendees. Budgets are still reeling, and while CES has always been known for its international audience, I’m predicting that even the big electronics manufacturers will send smaller teams and prioritize those who have shorter distances to travel. So cast a wide net, but know that a lot of people will respond to your “let’s get together” email with, “I’m not going.”

    People sitting, attending presentation.
    Photo courtesy of Pexels.
  • More concise target audiences. Used to be that CES could be “all things to all people.” Now, every moment on the show floor needs to count. Appointments, media outreach and business development will be designed to target those who can reap the most rewards – and those who can only be “seen” at a big trade show (never met Steve from Buffalo, the customer who joined in 2019 – now’s your first chance).
  • There’s no going back in time (to borrow a phrase from Back to the Future). You can’t hop in your DeLorean and fire up the flux capacitator to make business the same as it was in 2019. But you can use this opportunity to strengthen relationships that have been limited to Zooms and establish new ones in real life. It’s an opportunity not to be squandered. Log into your contacts database and sort out the top people you want to reconnect with.

Are you going to CES? I’ll be there! Shoot me an email @ [email protected], and we can fist bump IRL.

Additional Resources