CES Rebounds With Strong Numbers, Delivers Largest Global Tech Event

January 12, 2023

The 2023 edition of the world’s most influential tech event, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which took place in Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, exceeded its own expectations and returned to six-digit attendance for the first time since the pandemic.

Spanning nearly 2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space (1.4 million in 2022), CES featured 3,200 exhibitors (2,300 in 2022), including 1,000 new exhibitors, and welcomed 115,000 attendees (45,000 in 2022), making it the largest audited global tech event since early 2020. With 40,000 international attendees heralding from 140 countries, it also set a new record for international attendance.

Owned and operated by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the show took over 11 official venues in Las Vegas, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, The Venetian Convention and Expo Center and ARIA.

“CES 2023 was the great reconnection,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “We’ve learned from the pandemic how essential human contact and the experience of being together are critical to innovation, to running a business. The fact is, our show and other successful shows have proven that trade shows are absolutely essential to building relationships, doing business, innovating more quickly and conveying the corporate culture in a way that helps you bond.” 

Health and safety continued to be top of mind for the organizers. The show introduced a touchless venue experience, with widened aisles, increased fresh air flow and filtration systems, hand sanitizing stations, door greeters and touchless public facilities at all CES venues. 

Travelers arriving between Jan. 1-4 from China, Hong Kong and Macao, which recently reopened its borders, were required to present a negative COVID test to pick up their badge (testing was also provided on-site), but after Jan. 5, that requirement was lifted. 

Future on the Show Floor

CES 2023

For the first time, the show had a central theme: “Human Security for All,” in partnership with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, with the idea of harnessing global innovation and collaboration to address the world’s biggest challenges, including food shortages, access to healthcare and personal safety. 

In reference to this, Shapiro said, “The innovation unveiled this week will drive economic growth and change in meaningful ways to improve our lives and create a better future for the next generation.”

The thrill of discovery and the energy of connection could be felt everywhere. With nearly 300 exhibitors, the show’s automotive sector was the largest to date, featuring self-driving tech, personal mobility devices for land and sea, and in-car experiences designed to make your car your best friend. It was hard not to be amazed by BMW i Vision Dee, a concept electric vehicle with adaptive AI that had conversations with attendees, changed colors depending on their mood and offered “a ride of your life.” 

First-time attendee Bart Lowyck, a partner at technology company IMEC, made a trek from Belgium to explore automotive innovations but found himself taking a selfie with the 100-ton Caterpillar truck. 

“Big machines make a big impression,” he said, adding that he was also “blown away” by the company’s autonomous excavators and construction vehicles. A first-time attendee, Lowyck didn’t have any hesitation with traveling and thought it was worth the investment but wished there was a more efficient way to connect with the right people for deeper technical conversations. 

CES 2023

Building on the explosive interest in the sector, the show introduced the Web3 and Metaverse area with technology and hardware for the digital worlds, a show section that stayed busy until the final hours of the show. The line to experience augmented reality solutions on the Magic Leap platform was over an hour long. 

“We’ve given over 300 demos a day,” said Jonathan Martin, director of professional services for Magic Leap. “A lot of people recognize the value of AR and VR, and I think we’re at an inflection point where we’re going to start seeing scaled adoption in the real world, [including] healthcare, defense and enterprise applications. People will be using these technologies every day to do their work.”

Good for Trade Show Business 

Trade show industry stakeholders were excited to bring their clients back to the show floor and spotlight next-level work. 

“Businesses are thrilled to be back together at in-person events, and the tech world gathering this week at CES is a great example of the power of a community coming together to share innovations and network,” said Adam Charles, executive vice president, agency and professional services, for Freeman, the show’s general contractor. “As trade shows roared back post-pandemic, the power of the in-person experience was evident throughout CES. And new uses of event tech were, too.” 

Brand experience agency MC2 had multiple clients on the CES show floor.

“From the moment you walked off the plane to the show floor, it was everything we missed that only CES is able to offer,” said Bruno Silva, marketing director for MC2. “CES 2023 showed us that live, in-person events are and will continue to be a necessity in the event space. The show’s energy and engagement couldn’t be escaped.” 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.