If you attended CES this year you may have noticed that the scope of the massive show spreads way beyond the confines of the North, Central and South exhibit halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Vendors at the show seem to be willing to put booths in any nook and cranny that is available. There are huge amounts of the parking lots dedicated to large tents containing elaborate displays by well-known brand names and pretty much every hallway and lobby is jam packed with various kinds of eye catching displays.
For all the off-floor activity that the general attendee can be exposed to, there is even more happening behind the scenes, and not just at the convention center, but all over Las Vegas. From Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere and beyond, consumer electronics companies rent out nearly every single ballroom and conference room available in the city and often times turn them into unbelievably elaborate meeting rooms.
According to The Verge, an online tech & culture magazine, “if you want to make something happen, its gotta happen off the floor”. This seems to be a mentality that a lot of companies have adopted because many big names are nowhere to be seen on the show floor, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
VIZIO, one of the biggest names in consumer electronics, did not display at the Convention Center with all of their competitors. Instead they opted to take over a ballroom in the Wynn Hotel. This approach was effective because on Monday evening, when all the convention center exhibitors were still getting their booths ready for opening day on Tuesday, VIZIO had their booth at the Wynn up and running and invited the press in to report on their new products, like the unveiling of a 120’’ UHD television (the largest television in the world), a day before everyone else.
Other companies, like electronics insurance provider Asurion and vehicle audio makers, Alpine, chose to remain on site, but rather than appearing on the floor, they chose to build their presence in private meeting rooms inside the convention center. Asurion’s meeting room was especially memorable because rather than attempting to stand out in the crowd, they turned a meeting room into a virtual oasis. The room was quiet, and relaxing; the kind of space that makes you want to talk in a hushed voice, which is a great feeling after a few hours of interacting with the noisy hordes on the show floor.
There was a similar feeling for Alpine and the privacy and security of the meeting room allowed them to do their business distraction free, and to cater to their potential buyers in a very specific and attentive way.
There is an additional reason to think outside the floor, and that is the air of mystery and exclusivity that holding a private room can create. There is a sense of intrigue (I wonder what is going on behind those doors?) that adds depth to many of these brands.
One great example of this would be Mophie, who designs and manufactures mobile accessories. Mophie had a very large exhibit on the show floor that dominated the area where it was located, and although it had a very sleek design on the outside with nice window displays, the single entrance to the fortress had a sign that said, “by invitation only”. In this way, Mophie was able to accomplish what Alpine and Asurion did without even having to bother with a meeting room. What was behind those big black walls of the Mophie booth? Not very many people know, and that is exactly the point.
One of the difficulties for most exhibitors at CES is standing out among a sea of other exhibits, many of which have much larger budgets and therefore a much more elaborate and dominating floor presence. This is why it is smart to consider the options of off-floor or out of the ordinary, creative concepts because many companies are not marketing to the general public, but have specific buyers in mind that they can invite to their private spaces. These private spaces can be much quieter and provide a more controlled environment.
So if you are an exhibitor planning to attend CES next year, or any show for that matter, it might be worthwhile to consider your options and perhaps opt for a less traditional approach to your trade show marketing. By thinking outside the box, or in this case, outside the show floor, you may be able to stretch your budget dollars in a way that more directly serves the needs of your company.