Lessons from CES

This Q&A with Karen Chupka takes you behind the scenes at one of the biggest trade shows in the country.

CES, the International Consumer Electronics Show, is one of the most well-known trade shows in the world. Karen Chupka, senior vice president of CES and corporate business for the Consumer Electronics Association, shares some of the major tech trends and tools she’s seen shaping the meetings industry—and offers a peek inside one of the biggest shows in Vegas.

What are some of the most important tech trends you’re seeing today?

The biggest trends are social media and mobile-friendly. Sometimes, the best—or only—way to get someone’s attention is with short, bite-sized nuggets of information. Not as prevalent a trend yet, but gaining popularity: the use of beacon technology.

What tools are must-haves for meeting planners?

With everyone constantly on the run, the most important tool is a website that is mobile-friendly. Your site needs to be able to scale from the smallest screen to a desktop screen. Tools that allow interaction with attendees, exhibitors, and press alike are critical. We’re doing a lot more with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Hangouts, and Reddit to enhance our relationships and open our world up even more to those who want to learn about it and engage more deeply with our attendees and exhibitors.

What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned and insights you’ve gained from putting on one of the biggest shows in Vegas?

There are logistical and operational challenges, such as transportation and making sure an event this large isn’t overwhelming. We try to strike the balance between helping attendees find their communities while creating an atmosphere in which they can benefit from the serendipity of random discovery, like meeting their next business partner on a shuttle bus.

How can a planner choose tech wisely with a limited budget?

Understand what your attendees and customers need. Your website and social media presence should be top priority and should be kept fresh. Highlight next year’s dates on the website. WiFi access in meeting rooms is also really important. Attendees want to quickly look up information mentioned during presentations and promote the content through their own social channels. Finally, don’t skimp on the charging stations.

Wired For Less

Dependable WiFi is a must, but providing it at your meeting can be a huge expense. We asked John Bollen, chief digital officer of MGM Resorts, how planners can provide easy, free access without breaking the bank.

  • Keep it simple. Don’t over-design the WiFi with customizations that don’t add value but do add cost, such as custom portal pages or networks.
  • Know what you need. How many people are attending, and what is their usage? Are they just checking email, or do they need high-bandwidth video streaming?
  • Plan ahead. Talk about WiFi with the venue upfront. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll incur more costs, and the service may not
    work well.
  • Beware of interference. Ask that attendees
    use the WiFi instead of hot spots, which can make WiFi ineffective.
  • Check what services are included. Does WiFi extend from rooms to the meeting space? Let attendees know where it will and won’t work.

(David J Babb)

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