Why Will CES 2021 Be a Virtual Gathering?
The Consumer Technology Association — the group behind CES — posted a press release explaining its decision. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to scrap plans for a live and in-person event originally slated for January in Las Vegas.
The announcement specifically noted “growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19”, while also citing it was unsafe to bring tens of thousands of people together to interact together.
Mobile analyst and nine-time CES attendee, Ben Woods, said the move to a virtual format did not surprise him. It could set the tone for other large-scale events that could occur during the pandemic.
“When one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world says it is not viable to have a physical event, it sends a strong signal that these types of events will be near-impossible to hold in the coming months,” Woods explained.
What Can CES 2021 Attendees Expect?
CES attracts about 175,000 people each year, but this version could draw even more. The organizers described the upcoming conference as a “highly personalized experience.” It also gave a glimpse into what parts of the event will stay the same despite happening online.
You can still hear keynote speakers and get insights from respected and insightful people of the tech world. What’s different this year is you can show up from the comfort of your couch and not worry about getting to the room early enough to grab a seat close to the action.
There will also be opportunities to engage with thought leaders and peers from around the world. Instead of doing it in person, you’ll take part in round-table discussions, meetups, and other live networking options through an internet connection.
CES has a strong reputation for being one of the best places to check out new tech inventions and offerings before they hit the mainstream. Some of the forward-thinking items introduced last year included an electric scooter that doubles as a suitcase and a smart plant pot that helps you keep the living thing inside alive and healthy. Product introductions and demos will feature prominently in the CES 2021 lineup but via the virtual realm.
What Should Organizers Keep in Mind About a Virtual Event of this Scale?
Planners know obstacles emerge regardless of an event’s format, but a digital-only conference holds unique challenges.
Brand representatives may find it more difficult to generate a buzz around some of their new products. Many past CES attendees could touch and otherwise directly interact with the innovations, helping them get more excited and appreciative. That can’t happen this year, so companies will need to figure out how to convey what’s impressive about an offering as people see it through computer screens.
Another concern is the possibility of website crashes or tech failures. Organizers didn’t specify how people will tune in to the content interesting them most. However, those working behind the scenes must ensure the infrastructure can handle traffic surges and thousands of people watching live events simultaneously.
There are many positives to hosting a virtual event. People who’ve been to virtual gatherings already said they could watch offerings at any time, pause them to take notes, and pass them onto colleagues. There’s no need to worry about missing flights or feeling jet-lagged either. A digital event could gain more attention due to ease of access.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Organizers have not clarified if CES 2021 attendees will need to register in advance or buy tickets, so you should keep an eye on how things develop in the coming months and as virtual events become a more common outlet in the “new normal”.