Attendee Richard Glikes, executive director of the
47-dealer-strong, $450-million-grossing Home Theater Specialists of
America group, says he and his board of directors are lucky to get
half a day to actually walk the floor and visualize the product.
"This show used to be a lot more about selling," says Glikes. "Now
it's more about building relationships and planning marketing
strategies with our vendors."
Even lower in profile are the estimated 20,000 or so other
industry-ites not officially counted in CES' attendance figures,
who are in town working at off-site product exhibits and events
that piggyback CES, including "co-locates" like the Government IT
Showcase (for homeland security gear) and the non-aligned Adult
Video Show (yes, that kind of adult video).
VIVA LAS VEGAS
Because of the sheer size and demands of the show, CES has
developed quite the codependency with the uniquely
convention-friendly city of Las Vegas. True, Chicago and Orlando
have slightly larger primary convention centers, but "there isn't
another city in America with anywhere near our 128,000 hotel and
motel rooms less than a 20-minute cab or shuttle bus ride away,"
says Chris Meyer, director of convention center sales for the Las
Vegas Convention and Visitors' Authority. The city boasts two other
mega-exhibit centers, the Mandalay Bay and the Sands, and gobs of
hotel ballrooms and meeting facilities. That adds up to the city's
staggering 9.5 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.
"We say it's more than anywhere else in the galaxy, and so far, no
one's disputed it," says Meyer half-jokingly.
In staging a global-scale event like CES, it also helps that the
city never sleeps, and that flights come in direct from Europe and
Asia, says Karen Chupka, vice president of events and conferences
for CEA. "So no matter when you fly in or what time zone you're on,
you can get a lively welcome, even pick up your badge holder at the
airport until 1 a.m., then get a decent meal when you get to your
BLOWING OUT THE TOWN
To the locals, the International Consumer Electronics Show is
what's known as a citywide, meaning it takes over virtually the
entire town. And so determines things like how many cabs (1,500),
shuttle buses (200), and limousines (every available stretch from
the Las Vegas Valley back to L.A.) will be called into service.
Talent bookings at the big hotel/casinos are also affected, but on
the downside. Because so many of the exhibitors stage their own
hotel and club parties with big-name talent - from Jay Leno to
Crosby, Stills & Nash - some showrooms go "dark" during