The first time I made the voyage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, it was 2001 and I saw Bill Gates speak from the front row and Craig Barrett’s keynote was followed the a performance by The Blue Man Group. I drove to the event from Los Angeles where I was Account Executive at Ogilvy PR and I stayed with a local high school friend to save money on expensive hotels. I was an innocent bystander in 2001. No clients, no major announcements, not a damned thing but a love for technology and an even bigger drive to be at the center of it all. I came home with great stories and really couldn’t wait to do it all over again.
See what lovely memories I have of CES in the early days? No mention of exhaustion. Not a lick of stress, no bitter stories about bad cab drivers or ghetto-fabulous hotels. All sunshine and puppies.
The second time I went to CES, I was launching U3 with SanDisk and M-Systems. We had press conferences in the North Hall, the booth was in the South Hall and I stayed at the Flamingo off the strip. When I got back home to the Bay Area, I had 6 blisters and didn’t walk for a few days. My feet were killing me in a way that I never imagined before.
And the third time I attended CES, I was launching Destinator in the U.S. with Bill Hankes. We gave limo rides to journalists to and from the Las Vegas airport. This was a brilliant PR campaign, and if they demos of the software actually worked, I might not have needed to walk for miles and miles across the show floor. I was smart that year. I brought 4 different pairs of shoes for the 4 days I was there. I still came home with 7 blisters.
Flash forward to ten years later and seriously, all l I can think about is my feet. How will they ever bounce back from the annual beating that is the technology industry’s annual lovefest? I’m unclear.
My old friend and former co-worker from Ogilvy PR (the same delightful girl who dipped her salad!) is now on the PR team for Seagate and as she said via text this morning, ‘my feet ready to fall off’ and she’s been at it since Tuesday. As I was strolling down the strip with Tod Hunter and my family of blisters was staging a riot, I started thinking.
Maybe the CEA needs to start marketing proper footwear for 2012. Maybe I should invent some sort of shoe insert that will protect the 140,000 folks that grace the South and North Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Because really, no matter how many different pairs of shoes you pack, no matter how Gellin’ you happen to be, your feet will fail you in this particular situation.
If you’ve been to just one tradeshow, you know that Murphy’s Law always makes at least one appearance. Your booth’s Internet connection will be sporadic. The power will flicker on and off. Your press materials won’t show up; or if they do, they’ll still have ‘Track Changes’ all over the place (I learned this one the hard way in 2003). It’s just absolute insanity no matter how prepared you are.
So you add miles of walking like a crazed technology lunatic and your feet start to become angry. “Um, yeah no. We’re not walking anymore, doll. Ain’t happening, so sit your sorry ass down.” This was the speech I got as I was working in the Dijit booth. I ignored the ranting and raving of my feet and kept on going.
I might recover by CES 2012. Doubtful. But you know I can’t wait.