4 Ways to Improve the Next CES

I spent all of last week in Las Vegas for CES 2013. It is an enormous show and an incredible feat of logistics, but there is always room for improvement, and so I humbly present four ideas to improve CES in the future.

  1. Better Grouping of Similar Technologies: As I mentioned in my earlier post, there were over 3,100 exhibitors showcasing across more than 1.85 million square feet of exhibit space this year. As I walked through the exhibition hall, I felt that every other exhibitor was a manufacturer of either headphones or mobile device cases. As someone who is not particularly interested in either of these offerings, I found it frustrating that so much of my time and energy was wasted. Conversely, if I were interested in looking at either headphones or mobile device cases, I would find it even more frustrating that I had to walk through multiple venues in multiple parts of town just to see everything available. Grouping exhibitors by offering would be much more efficient.
  2. More Food: With an estimated 153,000 attendees, the lines to get food were almost always obscenely long. The food trucks outside were popular options, and in the future, CES should make room for more of them. I honestly don’t think it would be possible to have too many options at this event. My secret was to take a short walk across the street to Cafe 325 at the Marriott, which was busy, but had plenty of space for me to sit down and grab a bite. Hopefully that trick won’t be as necessary next year.
  3. Ban the Repeat Button*: If I never have to hear Gangnam Style again, it will be too soon. Seriously, every 100 feet there was some audio equipment supplier blasting this song on repeat. In the section that Symform exhibited, it literally played nonstop for 4 straight days. Mix up the playlist a bit people!
  4. More/Better Transportation Options**: Las Vegas is perhaps the least efficient place to get around that I’ve ever been. The absurdly long blocks and lack of through streets make walking exhausting for all but Olympic-level athletes, and the Las Vegas Monorail is only slightly less useless than Seattle’s version. The only viable options are taxi cabs, which are expensive, and shuttle buses, which are few and far between. And both of these get stuck frequently in the surprisingly congested streets. The short-term solution for CES would be to organize, prioritize, and promote many more shuttle routes. Or provide special buses for CES such as other large conferences do. The long-term solution for Las Vegas is to build a true mass transit system to move around the nearly 2 million residents and 40 million annual visitors. That means grade-separated transit, probably trains, that run frequently and serve the entire city (not just the strip) around the clock. This city has the space, money, and topography to get it done quickly; it just needs the political will.

Even with its challenges, the event was incredibly useful and inspiring. I’m looking forward to an even better CES 2014!

* This is more of a message to exhibitors then the show organizers.

** This is more of a message to Las Vegas politicians and civic leaders.