What keeps the CES experience exciting

This week marks 50 years of the CES and 39 years here in Las Vegas. No other city in the world captures the energy, excitement and wonder of CES, the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technology.

And no other city is better equipped to accommodate CES’ record-breaking 2.6 million net square feet of innovation, including 165,000-plus attendees, more than 3,800 exhibitors and 6,500 members of the media.

The secret to trade show success is a willingness to evolve to meet the needs of attendees and exhibitors, with an eye toward innovation and wonder. And Las Vegas’s ability to keep hosting CES will only improve following the vote by the Legislature in mid-October to help finance a massive — and badly needed — $1.4 billion renovation and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

That promise of forthcoming state-of-the-art upgrades will ensure that CES can plan for another 50 years in Las Vegas.

The deal will bolster the city’s economy, too: The convention center expansion is expected to bring in $2.1 billion in construction-related money to the local economy. That’s enough to fund 13,800 construction jobs and 7,800 full-time permanent jobs, according to estimates from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

For five decades, CES has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies. Companies have used CES as a proving ground to launch new innovations that have changed our world, from the VCR to the DVD, HDTV, tablets, drones, 3D printing and beyond, with more than 700,000 products introduced over the show’s lifetime.

But CES is so much more than a traditional trade show. It’s where business gets done and attendees witness the power of technology to change our lives for the better.

The technologies on display at this year’s CES are fresh and exciting. So, too, is the show itself. CES is increasingly experiential, with more interactive opportunities — including an open casting call for TV’s “Shark Tank,” live broadcasts of “Inside the NBA” from the show floor and — new this year — a Formula E Las Vegas eRace featuring the stars of the FIA Formula E Championship vying for a $1 million cash prize.

The next generation of trade shows must offer an array of experiences to attract attendees. Think of it in terms of return on investment for exhibitors and showgoers alike.

The Consumer Technology Association, which produces CES, takes that premise seriously. That’s why we continue to create and offer different, exciting types of experiences for companies that exhibit at CES and those who attend it. With “Innovate or Die” as our mantra, the association embraces this effort, because it’s always worthwhile to re-examine and reimagine what we do.

We thank Nevada lawmakers for approving the convention center expansion project. There’s no other place we’d rather partner with each January than Las Vegas.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.

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