Weekly Now: CES Goes Virtual in 2021

The Consumer Technology Association expects 150,000 attendees at its all-digital CES this week. Also: the cool thing Google did that your organization may want to try.

The year’s first big event—the one that sets the stage for the technology that will dominate our lives in the 12 months ahead—will stream into tens of thousands of homes rather than taking place in a giant convention hall in Las Vegas.

But Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which hosts CES, is fully aware of how losing the in-person element will affect the high-profile event that takes place January 11-14.

“If anyone’s been hurt by this, it’s Las Vegas itself, and we are sad for our friends and people who make the physical show happen,” Shapiro told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. “We want to be there with them in 2022, and we certainly plan to be.”

The decision to take the event fully digital came over the summer, after months of speculation that CTA would attempt to put on a hybrid event with an in-person element.

Speaking to TSNN, Shapiro said that even with the shift to a digital environment, it was important to keep the current schedule rather than postponing it in hopes of an in-person event.

“We wanted to move forward, and that January timeframe is important to a lot of people. The worst thing was not to go purely digital. It was to delay and cancel the event in November or December, because you have all your costs sunk and no revenue,” he said.

Despite the absence of the physical event, CTA is expecting as many as 150,000 attendees, Shapiro told TSNN.

Of course, technology has had quite a year well beyond the event. In an op-ed for Fox Business, Shapiro noted the state of the field after a year when technology was a building block that ensured that many people were able to keep working during the pandemic. He emphasized that such innovations will come in handy even after a sense of normalcy re-emerges.

Other recent headlines:

Free legal help on MLK Day. Each year on the holiday that bears Martin Luther King Jr.’s name, the Indiana State Bar Association honors the late civil rights figure by offering free legal assistance, a trend it plans to continue this year, according to the Chicago Crusader. More than 200 lawyers are expected to take part in 15- to 20-minute consultations that offer legal information to the public in 15 areas of the law. “Many legal issues are complicated, but we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction,” the association states.

A mentorship program for brewers. The Brewers Association is launching a new 12-week mentoring program that teams aspiring professionals with experienced leaders to discuss the ins and outs of a good beer—and a good brewery experience. “The Brewers Association envisions a craft brewing community that provides unmatched opportunities for learning and professional development to everyone,” BA’s president and CEO, Bob Pease, told Brewbound. “With the creation of our mentorship program, we hope to spur meaningful support for new and emerging craft beer professionals to thrive.”

Down With Meetings

It may seem like a strange thing to suggest, but one way to help your employees manage the burnout that can come with heavy remote work could be a strategy used by Google.

The strategy, according to Inc.? “No Meetings Weeks.” In other words, Google bars noncritical meetings over entire weeks, so its employees can focus either on doing independent work or on simply taking a break.

“It’s a simple and effective way to help give your team a gift of time, and to help them clear their schedule of meetings,” contributor Jason Aten writes. “As someone who has worked remotely for years, I can say that it truly does feel like a gift.”

Aten adds that the approach was inspired by what teams were already doing within the organization, and that groups have been able to implement this approach flexibly. “It’s up to leaders to give your employees space to rest and get away, and to allow them to do it in a way that actually fits their work,” Aten writes.


Email trends to watch: Whether it’s more interactive elements or a better workflow, there are some hot tactics to watch in 2021. Read on to get a sense of where your email program can thrive.

Many associations found themselves giving away their offerings for free in 2020 as events went virtual for the first time. How can they start charging again? Rasheeda Childress asks an association pricing expert for a few ideas.

We’re starting a new series to offer tips on how to better engage your members. Check out the first story here.

(via CES’ Twitter account)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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