For those of you that don’t know, I work in the trade show industry. I’m the Director of IT for a premier exhibit marketer. We do everything related to exhibit marketing. Design, Build, Warehouse, Ship, Install, Tear Down etc.
Since I’m on the back-end IT side of things, I normally don’t go to the show floor to see how things happen leading up to an event. This year I decided to change that, and go see what takes place before an event. I figured I might as well go big and hit the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.
In a word, overwhelming.
This show is absolutely huge. On the CES website they state that there are 35 American football fields worth of exhibit floor. I walked all of that. Every day. For three days straight.
I walked it on Monday, before the show was open to the public. I had my exhibitor badge and got to wander and check everything out. This was about 20 hours before the show went live, and it’s amazing how much work still has to be done in that last period of time. I honestly was floored by how much teams for every exhibit do in that last day. They had been setting up for a week already, and still had tons of fit and finish work to do.
One Tuesday I got there about an hour before the doors open, and I was able to once again walk around before the floodgates opened. There was still polishing and vacuuming and tons of other things going on everywhere. Teams really do make the most of their time.
I spent the day walking the floor again, taking pictures, and checking out various products. I just wanted to take in the enormity of things, so I spent most of my time walking and checking out differing booth designs and how different categories of products related to each other. It tends to become sensory overload really quickly. There must have been 40 premium headphones vendors and just as many iPhone case manufacturers. Those were just two of the many categories of products. But even though we in the tech industry enjoy CES, this is really a show focused on the average consumer. People buying TV’s, cell phones, tablets, stereo equipment, accessories, car stereos etc. Sure, many manufactures showed off ultra-book designs to compete with the likes of Apple’s MacBook Air, but that wasn’t the big focus.
So I enjoyed it, but since it was my first time, I ran around and looked at everything fairly superficially. I think in future years I would probably plan out what I wanted to look at first and map out where I wanted to go. It would make for a less harried experience. That said, I really have a new admiration for the people that put these events and booths together. The work put in is simply mind-boggling.
In all, CES is an awesome behemoth of a show and worth a trip to other gadget addicts out there such as myself. It’s absolutely overwhelming in every sense of the word, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing
If you want to check out my photos of some of the various booth designs. You can find them here.