I don’t think I’ve ever cut this quite so close to the wire before. But, with 24 hours to go, here’s the updated version of my ever-evolving “how to survive CES” post. Per last year’s CES tips post, I’ll be including anything that was relevant then, again.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Still the #1 most useful tip in my opinion. Even if you are the guy wearing the $6500 suit (come on!), put on your Adidas or Reeboks or whatever to go with it. Few will notice, and if anyone questions, saying “yeah, I decided it’s smarter to be comfortable than look pretty at CES” probably trumps any kind of rebuttal. It’s a BIG show and you’ll end up walking a few miles every day. Freebie bonus tip: while walking the show floor, try to walk on the booths as they tend to have better padding than the walkways between booths.
- Bring Purel and some chapstick. Wash before eating, because CES is also International Germfest. Just imagine all the happy little viruses (virii?) meeting so many new friends. Also, Vegas is in the middle of a desert, so having chapstick (and some moisturizer) helps.
- Skip the swag. Do you really want a Panasonic pen, or a Sony plastic bag, or a brochure from TiVo? Really? My wife has actually forbidden me from bringing home anything, period. Also, for those of you into conservation (which should be, you know, everyone), no better way to send a message than to leave LG with an extra truckfull of mints.
- Don’t harass booth workers. They all have jobs to do (booth babes included), and just because they are there doesn’t mean they are the right person for you to give your 30 minute lecture as to why you are unhappy with your DVD player. It’s also not fair to beat up on some marketing guy who doesn’t have a uber-techie-detail question (although if they don’t help find you the right person, well, then they’ve asked for it). Also, if you see 12 people from CNN trying to set up a video shoot, you should probably realize you’ve become a lower priority, try to grab a business card and head out rather than wait for that awkward moment…
- Don’t hide your badge. First, it’s just a nuisance. Second, people like me train all our booth staffers to ask people like you who you are. Third, good booth staffers will treat you the same as anyone else, although they might just filter you to the right person. If you are an important member of the press or a senior guy at a huge company, well odds are you shouldn’t be talking to the 23 year old QA person who was roped into coming to CES to help with some booth shifts. Flip side comment here: if you are working the booth and someone comes up that is a competitor, don’t be rude or glib. Treat them the same as any random booth visitor. It’s just stupid to tell them they can’t see something or take pictures, when any random schmo can do exactly that.
- Hydrate yourself and your hotel room: If you carry only one thing (and you should – more later), it should be a bottle of water. Also, since your hotel room will be quite dry, leave the bathtub 1/4 full of water overnight, you’ll feel better in the morning.
- Plan ahead. If you have not registered for the show, you aren’t getting in (this happened to a commentor here back in 2007). If you forget your badge, you are paying a fee to get it back. Pick up your badge at one of the non-primary locations (hint: most hotels!).
- Don’t Travel too much. Traveling between any two destinations could easily take an hour, even as early as 8am. If you try to leave the show, go to a hotel, then come back, your day is done.
- Need Connections? Figure it out ahead of time. Every year it gets better, but every year it’s still bad. Internet connectivity is unreliable anywhere in the convention center. Even the press room’s Internet service went down last year. If you MUST be online for a call/meeting/briefing/WoW session, have a place in mind to do it. Get a MiFi!
- Use SMS to coordinate. Texting is the easiest and most reliable means of communicating across the extremely loud and busy show.
- Bring business cards. I would say roughly 97% of the people that I’ve met at CES over the years who don’t have cards regret not having them. Maybe it seems cool now not to carry them. Maybe you think they are so 1990s. The truth is, there’s almost no reason not to carry cards, and even looking at it from a potential loss vs potential gain perspective says: carry the darn things! And Moo cards don’t count, people. Updated for 20092010: Still true.
- Pack lightly. My recommendation is to walk the floor with either nothing or a near-empty backpack. Forget shoulder straps, you’ll be aching by the end of the day. Bring nothing you do not need during the day. Also, try to dump your bag prior to dinner, so you can spend the night on the town without having to remember anything later. What happens in Vegas…
- Check the live coverage. Engadget puts up a post every 3.8 seconds during CES (this is not a fact, I am just guessing). Make sure you tap into theirs (or Gizmodos or your own favorite gadget blog) during the course of the show. They might find something you hadn’t heard of before, and you might miss it otherwise.
- Get a chair massage. They’re all over the place, and worth it.
Yup, we’ve lost a tip this year. But CES lost the Sands exhibit hall, so that probably makes up for it. See ya in Vegas!