Happening January 5-8 in Las Vegas, the industry’s largest show is brimming with new technology, ideas and opportunities. Dealerscope spoke with John T. Kelley, vice president and acting show director of CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA), to find out what to expect.
Dealerscope: How do you think this show will compare to previous years, including pre-pandemic?
Kelley: “We’ve always provided a platform for businesses of all sizes, large and small to showcase their products, to meet with partners, meet with media like yourself, and that has never changed throughout the pandemic. Even when we were entirely virtual in 2021, we still provided that opportunity for those companies to connect with the industry and really showcase their product technologies. As part of that digital platform, we offered several conference sessions as well. Obviously, we are back to in person and we had a very strong show this past year despite all of the challenges that Covid presented. Overall the sentiment was very positive for those that attended the event, and we’re looking to build off that show this year.
People are excited to be back in person and to meet with potential partners. Exhibitors want to showcase what they’ve been doing the last couple of years. The international presence at CES in particular has always been what’s important for a lot of companies. About a third of our attendees have come from outside the U.S., and we expect that to be true again this year. We’re expecting about 2,000 exhibitors if not a little more, and we’ve set a goal of 100,000 attendees right now, and our attendance is tracking to meet or exceed that goal.”
Dealerscope: In terms of halls and venues in areas, what will the show layout look like?
Kelley: “We’re anticipating the show footprint to be over 40 percent larger than it was last year. As an overview, we have three primary venues — the first being the Las Vegas Convention Center. We occupied the Central, the North and the West Hall. The West Hall was a new facility that opened last year; last year was our first year in the West Hall. That space will be primarily occupied by our automobile exhibitors, and also marine technology exhibitors will be in that space. One of the growth categories at CES is transportation and mobility. We’ll have more than 300 exhibitors in that space. There are also several large outdoor exhibits there as well. Google has a very large outdoor presence, BMW will have a large outdoor driving experience there, and then several exhibitors will create their own structures in the parking lot near at the convention center.
Moving over to the Venetian property — that’s where we have our startups and our emerging technologies. Over there we occupy two levels of the Venetian Expo. I anticipate hundreds of startups being there. Last year we had more than 600, and this year we expect even more, especially from other countries. A few to note this year: the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and a new pavilion from the Congo, which is our first African pavilion. We also have a pavilion from Ukraine as well, which is an interesting story to see. Upstairs in the Venetian we have smart home technologies and accessories and then there’s also an extension of the start-up pavilions showing how that the next phase works; these are more like ‘scale-ups.’
The third primary property that we occupy is the Aria hotel, which is for what we call C Space. This is an area dedicated to the marketing, advertising and branding community. We do two days of conference programs over there, and we have exhibits and meeting rooms. For instance, Amazon Advertising, Google and Meta have a large presence over there.”
Dealerscope: What new technologies are you expecting to see?
Kelley: “One of the most exciting things about CES is new technology. One example of that would be marine technology. We have a couple of exhibitors that will be showcasing some battery powered and autonomous vehicles for underwater vehicles. We also anticipate the largest automotive show that we’ve ever had, with more than three hundred auto companies. Sustainability will be an overarching theme of the show — How brands are more purpose driven, but also how are we seeing products that tie into sustainability, from electrification of vehicles to other areas.
Another area that I find pretty interesting as well is food tech, which is a growing category at CES. We’ll have dedicated space for that over in the Venetian, and we have at least five conference sessions dedicated to food tech as well.
Digital health is another growing category. We have several different health conference sessions that will take place starting Friday and then will move into Saturday as well. There is a dedicated area in North Hall for health. The pandemic has really accelerated how we use health monitoring services, remote doctor services and things of that nature. Ultimately the technology is giving the consumer more control and is improving our access to health care.”
Dealerscope: What major tech companies are already confirmed to be there?
Kelley: “Along with Amazon and Meta, there are large companies such as LG, Samsung, Microsoft, Panasonic and Sony, among others. Some of these even have a presence in multiple areas of the show.”
Dealerscope: How will the digital component work in conjunction with the live event?
Kelley: “It will have multiple functions. First it will allow exhibitors to showcase what they’re displaying at CES in a virtual environment. They can upload marketing materials, videos, etc. and allow our attendees to access those. There is also a connections tool that will — as part of the digital offering — allow exhibitors and attendees to connect one-on-one. Fifty plus sessions will be livestreamed during the show on the platform, and then post show more than a hundred sessions will be available for video on demand that can be viewed through that platform. Our aim is to keep the platform open for at least six to eight weeks following the show so people can go back and watch content.”
Dealerscope: Any tips for success for if you’re an exhibitor or an attendee?
Kelley: “For exhibitors: come with an open mind. Take note of what is happening around you and of what feedback you’re receiving from people that you interact with. Companies come to CES — particularly start-ups — with one idea or vision of what their product or technology should be, and then they meet somebody or they interact with somebody and it totally changes their business model or totally changes who their target audience may be. That’s my best advice for start-ups in particular: come with an open mind.
For attendees, I would say to prioritize what you want to get out of the show. There is a lot to see and do over the course of four days, and so come with some sort of plan as to what you want to experience.”
Dealerscope: Anything else you’d like to add?
Kelley: “At the end of the day, what’s most important is CES is a place where business happens, where deals get done, where partnerships are made, and as we’ve learned this past year, there’s really no way to replicate that in-person experience. I hear that sometimes people’s success at CES is a result of some of those serendipitous moments — a chance encounter at the line to get coffee or you’re sitting next to somebody at dinner. Then all of a sudden, a partnership strikes up or this new idea develops. It’s about the kind of magic that happens with those spontaneous moments.”