As CES approached we weren’t really sure what to think. A week before the show Amazon, Google and Microsoft swiftly pulled out of the “big show” as COVID’s Omicron variant swept through the nation. With our team primed to attend and hold a press conference for our client, the holiday season was as busy as ever, scheduling media interviews.

3 days until CES – A wave of media began backing out of CES. Our on-site meetings were being rescheduled as virtual and the trend would continue throughout the week.

Surprisingly when we arrived in Las Vegas on Monday, it wasn’t the normal bustling CES. No one really knew what to expect although there were thoughts that CES would be a bit of a ghost town and memes traveling across the Internet, like the one posted by Marques Brownlee below:

CES’s media day, Tuesday, January 4th was the day of our press conference. Honestly probably the bleekest media day I have ever seen in my history of attending CES since 2004. It was like a slow day in any hotel, no one was around. Luckily, because we were one of the few exhibitors that were still putting on a live press conference, we were able to catch the attendance of the people that were there and highlighted in the CTA press release. I’m not sure if that would have happened in a regular CES temperature where the Microsoft’s, Samsung’s, and Google’s outshine pretty much everyone else when it comes to press conference time and capturing the media’s attention.

As the expo opened on Wednesday – The show began to finally show some signs of life. However, I typically gauge the business by how long it takes me to get through the Starbucks line. It was 30 minutes at 10 am and if you have ever attended CES before, you know that the wait is at least an hour of tag-teaming the line with other members of your team, or getting there before 9 am. If that gives you any indication of how slow this was from a “normal” CES then let it be that. No long lines, no pushing through any crowds, and random empty spaces on the show floor where it looks like someone “forgot” to put carpet down. What’s even more interesting is that it was actually possible to get through the show without complete exhaustion. Still too much show for the three days that we had there, it was filled with interesting smaller companies trying to do big things, rather than the typical Goliath’s overshadowing any company in their wake.

Eureka Park, although also filled with gaps and spaces in between, proved to be bustling and exciting. The excitement of CES was still there, although the heat of being overwhelmed was calmed down a bit by the lesser attendance.

What trends did we walk out with?

  • Lots of autonomous technology – including our launch of Ottobots

  • Smart Home innovations taking the stage

  • Smaller brands getting bigger recognition

  • A majority of the big-name media shifting to virtual meetings, while freelance journalists still attending on their own

  • Great digital footprints for any brands that dared to make noise at CES

Yes, this year’s CES overall was a very different experience that brought opportunities to brands that may not otherwise have been highlighted and showcased. It was clear that the continuance of CES was a critical point in keeping CES innovation alive and that the attendees were eager to network as much as possible. The COVID precautions that were taken were as much as they could without hindering the progress of the show and were really based on the responsibility of the attendees.