Up until a couple weeks ago, I was a CES virgin. Since this was my first time at CES, naturally I talked to some veterans to get their advice on what to expect. I got some pretty good tips (wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be standing/walking all day, pack snacks and water so you stay hydrated and energized, etc.), but there were a lot of things that I learned for next time that I wanted to share with you; things you wouldn’t necessarily think of unless you were actually there.

Here’s what I have for you:

  1. The real CES happens after hours. Yes there’s the show floor and speaking sessions, but the most valuable PR networking happens during the parties, dinners, private events and even in line at Starbucks! The ICLabs team decided to host a private event this year to bring together clients, influencers and media together in a low-stress situation where everyone could mingle and relax. We had a great turnout and it was intimate enough that people could really dive into conversations and get to know people on more substantial level than a quick chat on the show floor would allow.CES2
  2. If you build it, they will come. Taking a quote from one of my dad’s favorite movies, this ended up being completely true about CES. While working my client’s booth, we received tons of positive feedback about the design and comfort of the booth – it was so inviting people had to stop by to check out the product! While doing laps around the show floor, there were plenty of generic booths that didn’t do anything to “wow” so I passed them by. From a PR perspective, if you have a client that’s tossing around the idea of investing in a booth design, work with them to ensure they’re creating an experience vs. an ad.
  3. Prepare to be truly amazed. Working in tech, you’re immersed in the industry and you see a lot of cool products. But CES is on a completely different level of unique and amazing. From Digitsole Smartshoes that tighten and warm your feet to Parrot Disco, the latest in drone technology. Prepare to let your imagination run wild!
  4. Have cash with you at all times. Unfortunately, Venmo is not a universal form of payment (yet!). You will undoubtedly have to take cabs from time to time, especially if where you need to go is not located directly on the monorail line. However, cabs charge an extra $3 every time you use a credit card, so having cash handy will save you from hidden fees. It’s also useful when you have to stand in long lines waiting for food or coffee. Do your CES friends a favor and pay in cash, not credit card, to speed the lines up. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have cash available if you want to stop by the Black Jack table!
  5. Me, Myself and I, that’s all I got. Beyoncé said it best and it rings true at CES. While you may have other team members at CES staffing briefings or working booths, there’s a good chance you’ll spend most of the time flying solo. This is where you’ll put the concept of “self-starter” to the test. I spent 8+ hours a day on the show floor and barely saw the rest of my team during that time. It was up to me to get press to the booth, work relationships to lock in results for the client and make sure I was staying busy at all times. I didn’t always have someone to bounce ideas off of so I really had to rely on myself and my instincts to get the job done.