(Photo by Nikki Khanna)
The world’s largest consumer technology expo, CES, can be an overwhelming experience — especially for a startup. Playing into the theme of Las Vegas extravagance, companies are known to invest millions of dollars into flashy booths and luxurious parties.
I saw the results of those investments this year as I attended my first CES. Though having a large team and even larger budget definitely helps in making a splash during the event, I learned it’s very much possible to have a productive, business-advancing CES for resource-constrained companies.
Here are some of the things I have learned over the years while planning Amino Payments’ CES experience:
Don’t assume you need a booth.
Booths start at around $5,000, so unless your product requires an immobile visual component, it’s best to simply attend the event with a $300 ticket. For meeting locations, many people grab a few spots at the bars of hotel lobbies in the morning and camp out there all day.
Know where your industry hub is.
Exhibits are organized by industries spread throughout the hotels. For example, the advertising industry takes over the Aria and Cosmopolitan. The hotels in which your industry centralizes should be where you stay and hold meetings. This also increases the chances of run-ins with key prospects who are difficult to connect with virtually.
Book reservations for client dinners in advance.
With over 100,000 people in attendance, there’s no surprise it’s extremely difficult to reserve a last-minute table at the restaurants in your industry’s hotel hub. If you would like to take clients out for a nice meal or treat your team to a celebratory dinner, be sure to book a table at least 2 months in advance.
Make an announcement during the event.
You don’t need an elaborate booth or a new product reveal to stay relevant at CES. By scheduling an announcement during CES, you’ll be able to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing with all the key players in one (giant) room. This year, Amino Payments announced a partnership with Mediaocean, a cross-media management solution that processes $150 billion a year in advertising spend through its platforms.
Pace yourself and stay hydrated.
Truly: It’s important to keep in mind CES is a marathon spreading over five days rather than a sprint. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the many meetings over drinks and especially in the dry Las Vegas heat.
It was clear from my first experience at CES that no matter how small your company is, CES can level the playing field by providing an energetic environment filled with key decision makers. And of course, the true productivity measure is in the followups, as it is for all professional events.
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