On July 28—more than five months before the largest technology show in the U.S. was scheduled to happen in Las Vegas—the Consumer Technology Association announced that CES 2021 will be a digital-only experience.
“It’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in January 2021 to meet and do business,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CES.
This article from CNBC.com details the financial impact that the cancellation of the in-person show will have on Las Vegas, which is presently open for business. More than 170,000 people attended the 2020 show. But seeing that attendees and exhibitors come from all over the world, the lack of a proven vaccine to combat Covid-19 plus travel restrictions set by various countries simply make such a large event not feasible to conduct in person.
Given that CES is ground zero for the latest innovations in consumer technology products, show management has credibility—but also high expectations to meet—as it touts that its digital-event experience will be “highly personalized.” First, “you’ll have a front-row seat for groundbreaking announcements and insights from the world’s tech leaders,” says the show’s press release. Second, “you’ll be able to engage with brands, thought leaders, and business connections you care about with live interactions, meet-ups, and roundtable discussions.” Lastly, “with the digital evolution of the CES show floor, you’ll be able to explore products and services through dynamic product showcases and live demos.”
In short, the online experience that CES delivers should be a benchmark for online events. And with more than five months to coordinate the event, CES might well deliver an experience in January that other show managers could learn from.