The organizers of CES are proving again that technology reaches all corners of life, and that’s exemplified in the selection of the 2017 show’s opening keynote address.
With companies like Dell, Microsoft, Cisco and Samsung waiting in the wings, it’ll be Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., the cruise ship company, who will be making the opening keynote address for Southern Nevada’s largest annual trade show, running Thursday through next Sunday.
Between 165,000 and 175,000 people are expected to attend the 50th anniversary show, which is open only to consumer electronics professionals and not the general public. Last year, 177,393 attended.
“Only a few events and trade shows have 50 years of success, and we are humbled to be in this elite group,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association.
The show’s producers, the Arlington, Virginia-based Consumer Electronics Association, say CES 2017 will be its largest in history, based on the sale of 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space to 3,800 vendors, surpassing last year’s record of just over 2.4 million square feet. It’s likely to be Las Vegas’ largest show by attendance this year, but possibly No. 2 to March’s ConExpo-Con/Agg, which is conducted every three years, by floor volume.
CES will fill the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo Center and several Venetian ballrooms. A portion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center will be used for media previews prior to the show’s opening, and other divisions of the show will exhibit at Westgate Las Vegas, Aria and the Cosmopolitan.
The show’s girth has been able to expand in part because of the demolition of the Riviera hotel-casino last summer. The Riviera ground is now a 3,100-space parking lot — dubbed the Diamond Lot and scheduled for a dedication ceremony Wednesday — while the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Gold Lot will be dedicated to driverless car and solar energy demonstrations.
The LVCVA is projecting direct visitor spending of $154 million based on the low-end 165,000 attendance projection. Since 1978, CES has welcomed an estimated 4.3 million visitors and will surpass $4.5 billion in economic impact at this year’s show.
When Donald takes the helm of the opening keynote Thursday morning at the Palazzo Ballroom, he’s expected to explain a first-of-its-kind technology creating new guest connectivity experiences for the nearly 11 million annual travelers who cruise on Carnival’s 10 global brands on 101 ships.
Technology whizzes have keynoted past CES’s since Las Vegas first hosted the show in 1978. Microsoft’s Bill Gates holds the record for most keynote appearances, 11 between 1996 and 2008.
FIRST CES IN NEW YORK
The first show, conducted in New York in 1967, had 117 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees who saw small black-and-white televisions, transistor radios and stereo systems.
When the show’s doors open Thursday — there are media days Tuesday and Wednesday and a pre-CES keynote Wednesday night — conventioneers will see applications for next-generation 5G network technology, drones and driverless cars, virtual and augmented reality, 3-D printers and tablet computers.
The Consumer Electronics Association will pay tribute to its 50 years of shows and the 700,000 products it has showcased over the years. Flashback photos and news from the past 50 years will be displayed. Exhibitors and attendees with more than 40 years attending shows will get special lapel pins, and attendees will get badge ribbons denoting the number of CES shows they’ve attended. CES founder Jack Wayman will receive a special tribute, and a CES documentary, to be released in June, will be filmed during the show.
CES — organizers have specifically asked that it be called that and not “Consumer Electronics Show” — will be a gathering place for international entrepreneurs, government leaders and regulators and the news media.
Organizers are expecting 50,000 attendees from 150 countries — roughly 81 of the world’s nations — at the show. More than 170 policymakers, including representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Homeland Security are expected. Eleven members of Congress are scheduled to attend.
BIG MEDIA PRESENCE
CES will be a good place to see and be seen, with 7,545 registered media members — 1,700 more than covered the Olympic Games.
Several celebrities will be making appearances at booths and speaking, including consumer advocate Ralph Nader, television personalities Soledad O’Brien and Dr. Mehmet Oz, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and retired athletes Grant Hill, Charles Barkley, Joe Montana and Shaquille O’Neal.
CES also positions itself as a showcase for up-and-coming entrepreneurs with its “Eureka Park” displays.
Startup companies apply to exhibit at the special display, with 600 companies from 33 countries among them. Entrepreneurs from four new countries — the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Ukraine — will exhibit for the first time. Eureka Park-eligible companies must have a new product or something that will launch in 2017 and have less than $1 million in annual sales. They can only display there for two years. They pay just $1,000 for booth space, compared with the $3,000 to $4,300 they’d normally have to pony up.
CES Senior Vice President Karen Chupka said special breaks for new companies is part of what CES is about.
“It gives these companies additional marketing opportunities with all the media present, and they also attract potential investors,” Chupka said.
She said “Shark Tank” and other investment-driven television shows have pitch sessions at CES.
PRODUCERS LV ADVOCATES
CES is among Southern Nevada’s major trade shows that have advocated for the LVCVA’s $1.4 billion expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Chupka said expanding and modernizing the city’s convention facilities is not only a priority to keep CES’s growth on track, but an effort to keep the local meetings industry thriving.
“Demand has been growing year over year for our show,” Chupka said. “We need it because we’re running out of space, but there are a lot of shows that want to come to Vegas, but they can’t because there’s no availability on the convention calendar. Having a new exhibit hall will help.”
As part of the LVCVA expansion and renovation program, a 600,000-square-foot hall is planned and likely will begin construction in 2018. In addition, there will be new transit options, including building a connector that will enable conventioneers to go from one hall to another without having to go outdoors.
Because of CES’s size, meeting planners also have been paying attention to not overflowing the city’s transportation grid. Chupka and other meeting planners testified on behalf of the LVCVA at October’s special session of the Legislature.
As for this week’s show, CES organizers have renewed relationships with Uber, Lyft and the Las Vegas Monorail. The association also provides bus shuttles between its venues and from major hotels to the convention centers.
For the first time, people who attend CES will be able to merge their attendance badge to include monorail ride admittance. Once a delegate purchases a monorail transportation package, instructions will be given to encode that onto the CES badge.
Contact Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.