I knew canceling my trip to CES was going to be difficult. But, boy did I underestimate the magnetism of Vegas. So I’ve made arrangements for a cameo appearance, scheduled between home projects and health emergencies, requiring just a single day of PTO. No, there’s no specific product that’s amazed me (yet) that I just have to see in person. In fact, I could do with a dozen or so fewer tablet devices. Yet I want to see it all, if you know what I mean.
In the spirit of this gadget extravaganza, while awaiting my airborne chariot, I’d like to respond to my pal Jeremy Toeman’s 2011 Tips for surviving and maximizing CES. And let me start by saying, how you handle CES is largely dependent on your objectives and plain ‘ole personal preference. While Jeremy’s an industry guy, I’m obviously a mobile blogger and prepare a bit differently. His list, my commentary:
Wear Comfy Shoes
On this point, Jeremy and I are in complete agreement. CES involves tons of walking. Walking around football fields of convention center and miles between venues – if you can handle it. And you should, as you’ll avoid the long cab and bus lines, in addition to the brutal traffic backups. I’m going business casual, yet as comfortable and supportive as my work shoes are, I’m still opting for a pair of Nikes.
Jeremy seems to think you might be able to avoid the CES flu. Whereas I suspect it’s inevitable. However, given the hundreds of people and gadgets I’ll caress, we both agree to pack the Purell and keep your hands washed as a precaution. But that’s my SOP.
Definitely pack light. But, whereas Jeremy suggests a near empty backpack, I need a near full laptop bag to remain productive as the days progress. My travel kit remains the same as my Thanksgiving getaway, minus the Kindle. No time for love, Dr. Jones.
Be Nice to the Staff
Again, this is my standard operating procedure. And probably an unnecessary reminder to treat folks as you expect to be treated. However, I disagree on his points on burdening employees with “questions on some weird technology nuance.” That’s exactly why I’m traveling to CES. Those nuances are the details I want, the ones rarely found in a press release. So my alternate advice for bloggers and press is to identify yourself as such when the booth rep is stumped. They’ll pass you off to the PR folks and/or direct you to the product people who can answer the questions without impeding the flow of traffic.
I planned absolutely everything in 2009. And I think my trip suffered because of it. In 2010, and now 2011, I have a few keys meetings and boothes I intend to hit. But otherwise I’m leaving myself free to discover and experience whatever, whenever, wherever. I also choose to skip 98% of press conferences and keynotes. I’m not Engadget and don’t need to cover that info in real time. Additionally, the majority of products announced will be displayed on the floor with press releases available online.
Skip the Swag
I mostly agree. Unless the swag is edible (remember all those years of Yahoo ice cream?) or you have kids. I’ll probably pick up a few blinky things for my niece and nephew, in addition to a few pens when I inevitably lose mine. However, in reference to the ‘keep clean’ guidance above, TiVo offered the best swag ever in 2009.
Yeah, it’s the desert and you’re going to be logging many miles over many days with limited sleep. So drink up. Water, that is. Jeremy and I have different ways to meet this goal though. He suggests you carry a water bottle on the show floor, whereas I hit water fountains and gladly accept the beverages that are offered to press at briefings. There’s also Starbucks right in the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Although the lines are usually much too long to mess with.
Jeremy says we shouldn’t count on our iPhones at CES. Ain’t that the truth. However, he does suggest text messaging as a reasonable alternative to coordinate and communicate. Although Twitter mostly replaced texts for me in 2010. I have no idea what the WiFi situation is, and will of course be bringing my own connectivity (which doesn’t rely on AT&T) with me. Mari’s also packing heat, with WiMax.
If you must cab it, I agree sharing is the way to go. You save money, but more importantly you will save time and you’re likely to meet some interesting folks.
Jeremy suggests layering, I suggest being cold. I’d much rather leave my jacket at the hotel and be chilled while outdoors. Less pockets, but also much less bulk. Then again, it was snowing in Vegas earlier this week…
Bring Business Cards
I’m out of business cards, and I rarely distribute them otherwise. It’s a reasonable, if old school, method of networking. But most folks leave CES with so many that it becomes a meaningless pile. So I do my best to take and give as few as possible, knowing they vast majority will end up in the recycling bin. Besides, I’ve got a nice iPhone app to scan cards. Lastly, the Consumer Electronics Association (the folks behind CES), have given out my email and cell to every exhibitor. So I’m already getting more mail, calls, and texts than I’d like.
Follow Live Online
I agree with Jeremy here. Follow the show online, whether you’re at the show or not. For folks at the show, I fully expect to come across interesting blog posts that motivate me to visit a booth and learn more. Additionally, as I said, I avoid most press conferences and keynotes. In addition to finding releases on line, many stream live video allowing me to multitask.
Lastly, as a mobile blogger, I’d make sure you remember to pack all your chargers… and charge at every opportunity. You have no idea when you’ll need juice and either there’s no outlet or the outlets are occupied. I used to mess with backup batteries, but I’ve gone back to carrying chargers. They’ve shrunk nicely in recent years, and gives me less items to keep track of.