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Vegas Bursts at The Seams: Will CES Implode?

by David Mercer | 1月 08, 2011

A CEA Board member told me at a Thursday evening party that the body behind the International CES was thinking visitor numbers this year might be heading towards 170,000. Many regular visitors I’ve spoken to agree it has been busier at the Las Vegas Convention Center than they can ever imagine, even in the last peak year, 2008. And in spite of the increase in hotel capacity since then the story is that there are no rooms to be had at the inn. Rumours even abound of visitors having to sleep on the streets or wander the casinos all night without getting any sleep. OK, that last bit was made up, but it may not be far from the truth, perhaps through personal preference in a few oddball cases.  There’s a fine balance between creating the enviable perception of a “can’t miss” event and making the experience unbearable for everyone tempted by the hype. And from a personal perspective and an informal survey of passing name badges and cab and monorail lines, CES 2011 certainly seems to have attracted many folks for the first time. Many press events have been so busy that even pre-registrants have been turned away; as an example, the Samsung press conference was beyond a joke, with never-ending lines of people still waiting to enter the event after the doors had to be closed.   With all respect to some of the international press, I’m not sure that a correspondent from “Land Rover Monthly” should be getting the same priority and attention as those of us who live and breathe the “consumer electronics” industry 24/365. But then, the CEA’s job is to grow “its industry”, and if Land Rover buyers can now be classified as consumer electronics customers, all well and good. With the content and media industry here in force, as well as all manner of telecoms and cable service providers, alongside the traditional target audience (consumer electronics retailers), it would seem the CES’s “industry” has suddenly expanded beyond all recognition.  Don’t get me wrong: there has been a buzz about this event which has been missing the last few years, and we at Strategy Analytics have certainly had an excellent few days of meetings. But the longer in tooth amongst us will recall the Comdex saga of some years ago, when a leading international technology trade show collapsed under its own excessive weight. How much bigger can CES get before the same happens here? The LVCC will certainly not cope with many more people in January 2012, so something will have to be done about show floor capacity if it moves towards 200,000 visitors. A return to split Sands/LVCC show floors perhaps?  David Mercer
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