Is CES Dying?
By Gabriel Torres on January 9, 2010 - 5:18 PM

A quick heads-up if you haven’t been to CES (Consumer Electronics Show, the largest trade show for consumer electronics, including computers) this year. This was the smallest CES I’ve ever been to. They simply shut down one of the exhibition halls (Sands Expo) and the first floor of the South Hall from the LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) was cut in half, with a black curtain in the middle of the hall so you wouldn’t fell that the hall was completely empty. On top of that, it seems that CEA (the company behind CES) is using some mob tactics to remove from Vegas companies that are not willing to pay their outrageous rates to have a booth on the show and decided to have meetings at hotel rooms instead. We saw, in person (we were inside the room when this happened), when the Palazzo hotel manager, a group of bellboys with several luggage carts and a group of security officers arrived to kick out a very well-known PSU/CPU cooler/case manufacturer (that asked us to remove their name from here, let's call them "company Z") from their hotel room because they were using the room to promote business.

If you have never been to the CES, let’s quickly explain how it is configured. Part of the show happens on the Sands Expo, which is connected to the Venetian hotel (which, in turn, is connected to the Palazzo hotel, since they belong to the same group), and part happens on the LVCC. Because of the high prices to have a booth on the show floor, many manufacturers prefer to have meetings at hotel suites. This is not only cheaper, but also more convenient, because the show floor is really noisy, being a really annoying place to conduct meetings.

It seems that CEA has an agreement with the Venetian where companies willing to use rooms for meetings have to pay an extra fee that goes to CEA, in order to cover the loss of business. This, by itself, we think is a big joke.

Company Z booked a big suite at the top floor from the Palazzo. According to them, they asked if they would have any problem holding meetings, displaying products and giving a party. Apparently the booking agent said no. When the Palazzo management learned that company Z was displaying products at their suite, they asked them to remove all computers, saying that they were not authorized to display products inside the room. Funny thing is, they were o.k. with the party on the same night (the food was catered by the hotel). The next morning they got a visit from another manager that said that they need to remove all brochures from the table, because no meetings could be conducted on the room (so, they are ok with a big noisy party but not ok with meetings?).

Then when the management saw that they were still getting journalists in and out their hotel room, they told they would have to leave and be charged in full for all days they have booked (and not for the two days they have stayed). We arrived at their hotel room shortly after this episode and as we were preparing to leave the room we saw the bellboys, security officers and hotel management coming in to kick everybody out (01/08/2010 around 5:00 PM).

Since the Palazzo belongs to the same group as the Venetian and they are interconnected, we have the impression that CEA put some pressure on the Venetian/Palazzo management to make sure everybody paid the alluded CEA fee.

In the end, company Z could not have the meetings they were willing to have, could only stay in Vegas for half the show, and the Palazzo has surely lost not only their business with company Z, but with other companies, as we are sure that this story will spread fast among all hardware manufacturers. The winner? All other hotels that don’t impose any kind of restrictions or overcharge for using a hotel suite to have meetings. The losers? The Palazzo, CEA and CES.

PS: Jason from Dailytech had a meeting with company Z right before ours and we bumped at each other there. He posted a more detailed report on this incident. According to him, the value of the CEA fee for companies that decide to display products on their hotel rooms is of USD 10,000.

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