David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
The Zen of CES (and other conferences)
I just returned from a week in Las Vegas attending the CES conference. CES is both my most favorite and least favorite week of the year. I get a lot out of attending, as the experience gives me a fantastic view of the next eighteen or so months in the technology industry – all during a single week. It prepares me for the disruptions of the near future. I hate it however, because it is as exhausting and draining a week as I spend during the year – and I don’t drink, party or gamble. The exhaustion simply comes from days that start at 5am, press conferences I have to be in line for at 7am, and evening exhibition events that first open at 7pm. When I chat with a lot of very smart people who attend, we sound like a typical visiting day at the old folk’s home: “My back hurts…I can’t walk another step… etc.” If you’re interested in the things I found at CES 2020 you can check-out my Sound & Communications page for the individual interviews, or my one hour and twelve minute wrap-up video at AVNationTV. But that’s not what this blog is about.
Rather than that, I wanted to focus on my tangential observations from CES – and for that matter from the other industry conferences I attend. Things that amuse and/or annoy me, things that I wish would change, and things that are just plain wacky. I was going to ‘borrow’ Joe Brancatelli’s “Nobody asked me, but…” (which he and others lovingly borrowed from Jimmy Cannon) but at his suggestion, let’s go with ceSeems To Me….
· ceSeems To Me that most of the problems figuring out a trade show floor at large conferences would be solved if exhibitors were forced to put a sign on their booth that explained exactly what they did. If I can’t figure it out at first glance I’m not stopping.
· ceSeems To Me that while we’re on the trade show floor (or at the mall, airport or any other space) that people should be forced to walk in the direction their head is actually facing. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to have to bob and weave to avoid someone walking towards me but facing away from me. If you want to stop and look at something then stop and look – don’t let your body keep moving in a direction you’re not looking at.
· ceSeems To Me that while conferences are excellent opportunities to learn, conference organizers tend to let anyone with money exhibit on their show floor. At this year’s CES we had the fake “Smart Potato” and we had an enormous waste of space at the Mercedes-Benz booth showing a “concept” car based loosely on the Avatar movie. Both of these show that conferences will let fake products and concepts that will never be built onto the show floor if they pay for the booth space. Almost no level of scrutiny is taking place.
· ceSeems To Me that if a conference organizer uses a smarphone app to help attendees navigate the conference that someone on their team should actually have tried that app to make sure it works. The app is essentially useless if I can’t rapidly call up a floor map, if I can’t go to another app then re-open the event app at the spot where I left it, and/or if it needs to show me an ad before I can use it. Those are things that will make me delete it and go for the tree-killing paper maps again.
· ceSeems To Me that it’d be pretty easy to give all the rent-a-cops at conference entrances the same instructions. How do only some of them know that there are exceptions to certain rules and others don’t? It reminds me of the old phrase “if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.”
· ceSeems To Me that if an exhibitor buys the mailing list of attendees from a conference organizer, they then have an obligation to not be stupid with it: Don’t email entire groups in the “to” field so that everyone that “replies to all” creates a SPAM storm; Don’t email people about your product if it’s in a category they didn’t indicate interest in; Don’t send a “thanks for visiting” email to people that didn’t actually visit your booth – and/or don’t send a “sorry we missed” you email to people that had no need to see your booth (just take that one as a hint.)
My next conference this year is next month in Amsterdam. Let’s pray the conference organizers, attendees and exhibitors get a whole lot smarter in a short period of time. (I’m not holding my breath…)
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.