How to see CES in under two hours

Your 2pm meeting was canceled, or you’ve got a half-day break from your booth shift. What should you do?

I’ve been to over a dozen CES’s. Most of my days are booked with meetings, but I typically try to set aside two hours to actually “see the show”. Here are a few tips to making the most of the time.

Get a lay of the land

Invest a few minutes understanding the different locations.

The two primary venues are the Las Vegas Convention Center (also known as “Tech East”) and the Sands Exposition Hall (also known as “Tech West”). Don’t expect to see both in two hours; you’ll spend half of that in a taxi. There are other areas, but if you have less than two hours, don’t bother.

The LVCC has North, Central and South halls. North Hall has the auto exhibits; Central has the big TV brands, and South has the personal computer stuff.

Sands Expo has smaller companies doing “up and coming” stuff: robotics, 3D printers, virtual reality, etc.

Be prepared to spend some money

The free shuttle buses are very convenient… if you have time to kill. But time is money, especially if you only have two hours. Pick your venue, take a taxi (or new for 2016: Uber or Lyft).

Have a purpose

Don’t just “walk the floor”. Have a goal. Below I suggest three possible “tours”. The “first timer eye-candy” tour, or the “why the heck would I want that” tour, or the “I have to see the latest in xyz” tour.

The “First Timer Eye-Candy” tour

If this is your first CES, then you have to check out the big exhibits that the show is know for: new TVs. And CES has become more and more of an auto show (Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, gave a keynote address).

Hit Central Hall for the TVs. Make sure to visit Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony. You can’t just ready about the size and picture quality… you just have to see it.

Hit North Hall for the automobile manufacturers. They all have concept cars showing off the latest in autonomous driving and intelligent in-car systems.

The “Why the Heck Would I Want That” tour

If you’re more interested in the quirky stuff, then the Sands Exposition Hall is for you. Here you’ll find the smaller companies working on smart toys, 3D printed clothing, and peripherals for your Virtual Reality headset. They also have an international pavilion that shows the latest in low-cost gadgets that you might never see in the US.

The “I Have to See the Latest in xyz” tour

You might have a particular industry you’re focused on. Perhaps you want to understand your competitors, or you want to find potential customers in a new segment you want to expand into.

The latest CES mobile app is your best friend here. You can search for companies and plot your path thru one of the halls.

A few other tips

Stay on schedule: It’s too easy to get caught up in a live demo, or some celebrity performer. You only have two hours… you don’t have time for the hype.

Never double back: You don’t have time to cover the same ground. North and Central Halls are rough square shaped, so you walk in a circle. South Hall is long and skinny and has two floors, so go east on one floor, then go west on the other floor.

Have a positive attitude: Don’t let the crowds and lines get you down. You’re hear to discover! Folks working the booths actually want you to ask questions, so if something catches your eye, go ahead and ask about it!

I hope this brief writeup helps you survive CES, whether it’s your first or your tenth.

Have fun!

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