As the last memories of the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas fade, it’s time to bring up one last related thought. You can get a free ticket to the exhibit floor (where most of the cool stuff is) of the next CES.
(If you want to visit purely satellite-based exhibitors, then you’ll have much better luck at the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show, scheduled for April 12-15, 2010, in Las Vegas. Or you can go to the Satellite 2010 show near Washington DC, but then you lose all the benefits of visiting Las Vegas. Anyway, you can substitute the relevant information for one of these shows in the following instructions, and it’ll probably work just as well.)
- You need to work for a company in a related industry. This is a lot easier than it sounds. If you fix cars, work at Walmart, or sell iPhones, you qualify for consumer electronics. If you don’t, no problem. Suppose you wake up tomorrow morning and decide that you’re going to start a sole proprietor industry consulting business. Good for you, entrepreneur! Now print a few business cards and you’ll have all the proof you’ll need. To avoid embarrassment, rehearse a good reason why you’re visiting.
- You need to find an invitation. Again, this isn’t that hard. Just run a web search on “CES Free Pass”, and you should find pages of exhibitors who would love to invite you to visit their booth. These free passes are often good for keynote speeches and other events where the show hopes to draw a crowd.
- You need a place to stay. Unless you can commute, you’ll need to pay for a hotel. Usually, your best bet is to reserve a room directly with a nearby hotel. You might not want tot use Travelocity or Expedia or let the show do it for you because you can typically cancel or adjust a direct reservations if and when the rates go down. Las Vegas has the advantage here with thousands of rooms available at low rates.
- You need a way to get to the show. Unless you can drive from home, avoid cars. With thousands of cars converging on the convention center, you’ll have a long walk anyway from wherever you find a space, and you’ll probably pay quite a bit for the privilege. CES operates hotel shuttles, and in Las Vegas, the monorail offers the fastest transportation around town. If you travel light, you can even ride a city bus (#108 PDF) directly from the airport to the convention center.
So there you have it. Next time you hear details of a show and wish that you had attended, go ahead and make that wish come true. Dig around for a cheap airfare, get yourself registered, then come out and see what you’ve been missing.