SAN DIEGO, Calif. — At Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100 Awards & Summit, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro announced CTA’s annual CES, taking place Jan. 9-12, 2024, in Las Vegas, is on track to exceed the 2023 edition for size, number of attendees, exhibitors and global media and see double-digit growth.
The expected number of event attendees surpasses 130,000, and with more than 3,500 exhibitors, CES 2024 will be the largest independently audited and in-person tech event in the world. CES follows the auditing standards set by UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.
“The trade show industry itself is doing well because executives have realized the importance of face to face,” Shapiro said. “Another interesting trend is companies are using trade shows to get their teams together, even as exhibitors, because they’re dispersed. This will be our third live CES since COVID hit, and we’re seeing growth each time.”
CES serves as a platform for companies to display and introduce their technologies and products, as they do business and meet new partners, and there is a strong focus on startups and the entrepreneurial spirit of the tech industry. This year in Eureka Park, there will be more than 1,000 startups showcasing their latest innovations. Entries to CES’ Innovation Awards program were up 40% from last year in terms of total number of entries.
“I think it’s good for everyone to have a startup culture in the U.S. and encourage that” Shapiro said. “It is important that we recognize that these smaller companies have an opportunity to get, overnight, national distribution, investors or media coverage. We have an obligation to bring new things to the attendees and to the media, change and innovation is what drives everything. Trade shows and innovation are fundamentally changing the human condition, and that’s what we’re very focused on.”
Attracting & Retaining Exhibitors at CES 2024
A key factor in CES’ growth is the way the programming stays relevant, with the trade show providing attendees the opportunity to connect with other companies, investors, policy makers and see the latest trends and innovations.
“We try to keep it fresh and keep it new every year. We always want to do things differently,” Shapiro said. “Last year we partnered up with the United Nations affiliate organization and we focused on different ways technology is meeting the basic human security needs around the world. We’re going to deepen that relationship.”
One way CTA is keeping things fresh is to provide attendees with a range of voices through their speakers. For the first time, CES 2024 is featuring a Beauty Tech portion of the show, and the CEO of L’Oréal, Nicolas Hieronimus will provide the keynote.
“It can be beneficial to look for a keynote or speaker that is outside of your traditional realm,” Kinsey Fabrizio, SVP, CES and Membership, said. Along with bringing outside voices in, Fabrizio said that educating first-time exhibitors on how to have a successful show before it opens is key to ensuring they have a great, productive experience on the show floor. AI-enabled closed captioning will also be available in all CES sessions to provide all with access to the content.
It’s not just about helping new exhibitors to be successful though, because CES also rewards longstanding exhibitors using a priority points system which allows companies who have been exhibiting the longest, along with some other criteria, the first opportunities to pick their placement on the show floor for the following year. By incentivizing committing to attending early, the CES sales team can dedicate more time to finding and bringing in new companies and brands. Utilizing survey results and data also helps the CES team to continue improving upon the show and provide a world-class experience.
“The average CES attendee holds 29 meetings, 94% of CES exhibitors said their annual sales were influenced by CES and 95% of people say face-to-face meetings are critical for success in building and maintaining business relationships,” Fabrizio said. “60% of Fortune 500 companies were represented at CES 2023. It’s a very compelling case for our exhibitors that the attendees are of such high quality, and that keeps them coming back to the show.”
Thinking Creatively & Going Global
With so much growth, the team behind CES has been thinking about using space creatively. One example Fabrizio gave is the health industry is looking for ways to have an activation on the show floor, but not just centered around one specific solution; it will bring together lots of different verticals within the health industry.
“Another way we’re using space creatively is we’ve always done this outdoor space, but we’ve expanded into some new outdoor space areas, specifically right outside of the West Hall. We’ll have some really cool demos there, like flying cars,” Fabrizio said.
CES also focuses heavily on the global attendee, with more than one out of three attendees being from outside the U.S. and getting media from around the world to attend and cover it.
“We focus on getting policy makers to the show, not only from the U.S., but from around the world to see what we’re doing,” Shapiro said. “The benefit of getting the policy makers there is, first off, they see any industry up close, they have a real human connection to the industry. They get to see why innovation is important and why they have to protect it, and it’s not just about the big companies. Small companies count, and policy makers will see that and the power of entrepreneurialism. The other thing that happens is when a country’s policy makers come from outside the U.S., that is like a green light for that country’s exhibitors to come to the U.S. We get hundreds, if not well over a thousand, government employees from around the world that come with various hats on.”
CTA is working with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the World Academy of Art and Science on the Human Security for All (HS4A) global campaign to focus attention on the critical role that technology can play to improve every aspect of the human experience. Shapiro said that technology has the ability to have a drastic impact on the human condition and society, for example the agricultural and food technology companies’ participation in the show can display how tech can help solve issues around food insecurity globally.
The CTA takes a people-first approach to their show design, which includes prioritizing health. Focusing on opening doors, going as touchless as possible, providing masks for those who want them and COVID testing is still going to be part of CES 2024 to ensure everyone feels safe and protected at the show.