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CES: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

So that was CES 2011. We’re finally sat in our hotel room resting our feet, and calculating the number of steps and miles walked.

So that was CES 2011. We’re finally sat in our hotel room resting our feet, and calculating the number of steps and miles walked. We’ve met with so many companies we’ve lost count – and have filled a large sports bag with press releases (on paper, CD, and memory stick). It’s been six solid days, from before the show opens to when we finally put our PCs away well past midnight…

As we look back on the themes and trends we spotted as we walked the halls and the press events, perhaps it’s a good idea to pass on the tips we’ve learnt over the last few years on just how to survive the monster that is CES.

Tip 1: Moisturise!

Las Vegas is in high desert country, well over 2000 feet above sea level. Winters are cool, and very very dry. If you’re going to survive the four days of the show (and the two days of pre-show press events) you’ll need to invest in a good lip salve and a bottle that’ll hold plenty of water. Keep drinking the water, and keep it topped up during the day (and avoid the alcohol at the evening events).

Tip 2: Get into training.

This is the one we always forget. CES’s three main conference halls are enormous, and you’re really going to rack up the miles – and when you’re not walking you’re going to be standing (or worse still, walking slowly around an exhibit). Get yourself ready by building up to carrying a full backpack at least five miles a day. You won’t regret it, and you’ll be able to make meetings on time (if the crowds allow it).

Tip 3: Wear good, comfortable shoes

You’re going to be walking a lot (I suspect we mentioned that before!), so you’re going to need good comfortable shoes with plenty of arch support. Don’t worry about fashion – a pair of well-broken in hiking shoes or walking sandals is going to get you plenty of admiration for your foresight from all the folk you meet with aching feet…

Tip 4: Stock up on energy bars

Food? You won’t have time for food! Expect to only get one meal a day, and that probably quite late at night (and probably more likely to be party nibbles that a full dinner). Carrying a couple of cereal bars will give you a long term energy boost that should keep you going as you trudge from hall to hall.

Tip 5: Plan your meetings in advance. Your plan won’t survive contact with the enemy, but it will at least help you corral as many meetings in one conference hall at a time as possible. The maps on the CES web site help you get things in order, and the CES mobile application helps you find stands and navigate around the halls. You'll need to be flexible though, as people will be late, and meetings you've arranged will have disappeared from schedules...

Tip 6: You will not see everything

It’s impossible to see everything at CES. There were more than 2700 exhibitors at this year’s event, with many of them scattered around Las Vegas in hotel suites – including many of the biggest companies. With three huge halls in the LVCC, exhibits at the Venetian and in the Hilton, you won’t get around to seeing even the stands you want to see, even if you’re on site for the whole four days.

Tip 7: Be ready to queue.

CES is all about the queues. There are queues to get into the keynotes, to see popular exhibits, to get past popular exhibits, for the shuttle buses, for the taxis, for press conferences, for coffee. It’s all good natured, and a good opportunity to network, but still, it’s queuing…

Tip 8: Have fun!

After all, it’s CES, and it only happens once a year…

Simon Bisson

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