In 1830s America, the fur trade introduced the forerunner of the American trade fair: the rendezvous, a regular annual gathering where all the bargaining and the buying were done. In wide pastures at the foot of the mountains, the Indian traders and fur trappers gathered with their pelts and the buyers came in with dollars and various seductive trinkets.
I’ve worked at many trade fairs, spanning many industries. No matter the product, the venue, or the industry, I’ve noticed that while name tags and shop talk patter change, the experience stays the same. I guess any of us could be dropped back into a 1830s prairie rendezvous and feel the same vibe, look over our shoulders at upstart competitors, and dish the same gossip with colleagues during over-priced meals.
The Consumer Electronics Association hosts CES, a global trade fair for the most pervasive industry out there – electronics – and pulls off a whopper every year, in both lean times and salad days. Where else on earth could 2500+ traders meet up with 120,000+ buyers but in the oasis that is Las Vegas? Pre-event messages from the CEA’s president reminded readers that innovation and optimism reign supreme, and he was right.
Though there are dozens of aisles featuring ancillary, nice-to-have, throwaway wares on display — activewear accessories for your smartphone, sensurround comfy chairs for gamers, or jewel-encrusted earphones – CES visitors get to talk with inventors of what I feel are key enabling technologies, and see and touch products that will end up in our cars and homes very soon.
That’s why enduring the throngs of people and the “so-much-moreness” of Las Vegas is worth it. It’s a great way to set your frame of mind toward a new year of opportunity, change, the search for personall excellence, and progress.