CES 2020: A Survival Guide

CES 2020: A Survival Guide

CES is a who’s-who in tech and innovation showcasing the world’s smartest minds and coolest gadgets, featuring the latest products from big brands to startups. There’s something for everyone, from gaming to auto, home to office, and lots of robots in between.

It’s a whirlwind, and it’s massive – the event brings approximately 200,000 extra people into Las Vegas.

Spark is an old hand at CES. We’ve seen everything, from Microsoft’s last keynote to the then-revolutionary introduction of phones with built-in GPS. This year, we’re looking forward to more about ambient computing (Alexa in everything!), 5G, huge ultra high def TVs, and game-changing tech products! The show is intense and can be overwhelming (especially for newbies), but we’ve found that with the right mix of planning and outlook it’s incredibly productive and fun.

Along the way, we’ve picked up some key habits to maximize your CES experience. Spark veterans share their top survival strategies below.

1. Plan, plan, and plan some more
Advance prep is the number one CES best practice. Book everything before you go: parties, booths, demos, interviews, business development meetings, etc…because if you think you’re going to walk up to a restaurant and snag a table for your entire team, think again. Try to plan well ahead of time.

2. Budget extra time
Always. Seriously. Give yourself an extra: 30 minutes to do everything! It can take up to an hour to get to and from places. This is especially true during prime rush hours – like in the morning before a keynote, or when the expo hall opens, or a day or two before CES opens when everyone arrives for advance press events such as Unveiled and Pepcom.

3. Map it!
CES is spread out across multiple convention centers, so it’s important to map out your musts and try to schedule the amount of ground you need to cover in a single day. Poor planning results in unnecessary travel (or just walking) which not only wastes a considerable amount of time but can also tire you out quickly. Remember, CES is a marathon, not a sprint.

The taxi line at McCarran International Airport is notoriously long. Your best bet if you don’t have a private car (most don’t) is to try a rideshare. Beware that pick up spots are often located in different places than Taxi lines depending on where you are. . Here is information for all the popular locations, like the airport, LVCC and the Venetian. And if you are near a stop, the Monorail is another solid option.

4. Connect in advance
Post on LinkedIn or Facebook to ask who among your contacts are planning to be at CES too. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with former associates or finally meet face-to-face with that prospect you’ve been chasing. Twitter and even Instagram can be good too for cutting through the clutter of inboxes.

That said, keep in mind that Wifi isn’t always accessible, so get phone numbers for the people you’re meeting with so you can text them on the fly.

5. Stay healthy
A little self care goes a long way. CES is a walking Petri dish of nasty bacteria! Keep hand sanitizer in your bag and use it regularly. We also bring immune-boosting tablets, such as Airborne, to keep us healthy.

Remember to drink water! Being up – both awake and standing – for so many hours per day, day after day, it’s easy to dehydrate. Bring chapstick and lotion. Trust us, that casino air is dry!

And don’t forget your Apple Watch and sneakers – you’ll easily walk 17,000 steps a day.

6. Be heard
To lock down press coverage, many companies start pre-briefing in December as media likes to begin big stories ahead of CES if possible.

But even if you haven’t briefed a number of media by now, there may still be opportunities to meet with press at press events like CES Unveiled (for official CES participants only), Pepcom, and ShowStoppers. Each event has its own flavor, but are generally useful for meeting a large number of media (we’re talking dozens) over the course of a few hours.

Press tends to cover the biggest companies, announcements, and trends early on, saving coverage of smaller companies and less familiar trends for later in the week when they’ve had time to roam the expo halls and synthesize what they’ve seen. If your news fits this bill, time it accordingly.

7. Have fun!
You’re in Vegas, baby! Don’t forget it. Bring your party clothes. Find the don’t miss parties here, and Google “CES Party List 2020” for even more resources to plan your post-conference evenings. Maximize your networking.

Be sure to check out all the winners at the “Best of CES” awards to see the trends for the next year and beyond – the winners stood out from the CES crowd, so they’re probably very cool.

Speaking of parties, Spark is throwing its own media event called Sparkle and Spirits! 65+ top tier media have RSVPed. If you’re interested contact us here.