Even with the cancellation of major conferences and events leading into 2021 in the wake of COVID-19, the organizers behind CES are banking on the swift return of live. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in May confirmed in-person plans for its annual technology trade show, announcing that the event would take place as scheduled from Jan. 6-9, 2021 in Las Vegas and noting that major brands are committed to attending. The news comes as global companies including Facebook have halted plans for physical events through June 2021, and on the heels of large-scale event cancellations like BlizzCon 2020, Blizzard Entertainment’s gaming convention, which was slated for November of this year.
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The question, of course, is whether people will feel safe attending a show that typically attracts 175,000 people over four days. To that end, the CTA is adapting its strategy to include a more comprehensive digital component that will encompass a wider variety of live-streamed content and other “engaging digital and virtual opportunities” that connect consumers with leaders in tech. The organization is also planning to showcase exhibitors’ products and services both physically and digitally.
As for health safety guidelines and protocols, the CTA said it continues to “evaluate and expand” the measures it will implement, and is working with the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority, as well as public health experts, event industry associations and hotels, to develop policies and best practices around on-site health safety. Among new measures to be employed at the 2021 show: issuing best practices guides for attendees, like wearing masks and how to approach product demos; enabling social distancing through widened aisles and staggered seating arrangements; providing enhanced on-site access to health services; and “regularly” sanitizing spaces across the event’s multiple venues.
“For CES 2021, we will highlight technologies that help provide solutions for some of the day-to-day challenges created by the pandemic,” the CTA said in statement. “We are encouraged that the collaboration of technology and medicine will create innovative solutions and save lives. And we believe events such as CES that bring thought leaders and innovators together to solve these challenges will be more important than ever.”