Every industry has
major trade shows and then there are some trade events that encompass a
multitude of industries. While top executives and buyers often pop in and out using
private aviation, as an owner or senior executive, these days you need to be
cognizant of wider security issues assuming your colleagues will also be there,
exhibiting or attending. With that in mind and CES, one of the largest trade
events in the world, on the horizon, we asked the experts at AS Solution to
give you an overview of what you should be thinking about from the top echelons
of your organization.
Electronics Show, or CES, is the international tech industry’s biggest annual
gathering. The show is massive, the last one having attracted nearly 185,000
participants. Not only is CES the biggest show in Las Vegas, a town that’s all
about big shows – it’s the biggest
trade show in the United States, period.
1. CES is THE
place for new tech
Last year at CES
2017, 67,000 exhibitor personnel introduced 109,000 industry attendees to
thousands of brand new tech products. Equal parts global PR platform and good
old-fashioned trade show, CES is the place where many highly anticipated
technological innovations – as well as plenty of surprises – are unveiled.
This is where the new gadgets and gizmos, the ones that will soon be hitting
the stores and changing our lives, first meet the public.
Event security is
always primarily about protecting people, and security for CES is no different.
But because it introduces so much new tech, often in the form of shiny new
things that represent billions of dollars in sales and share prices, security
at CES is also very much about asset protection.
takeaway: Event planners and CSOs will want to make sure that security
providers can provide robust proof of how they will protect highly valuable
physical assets. From build-up to tear-down and everywhere in between.
Maintaining a friendly and open guest experience, while at the same time
protecting against everything from simple theft to sophisticated industrial
espionage, is a challenge for all of us working in event security. At CES, the
challenge is that much bigger.
As is well known,
most theft is internal. We don’t know how many flat screen TVs we’ve pulled out
of dumpsters over the years, but it’s more than a few. There are a lot of
people working internally at such a massive show, and it’s impossible for
corporate event security teams to keep an eye on all of them. Protecting assets
entails working closely with logistics providers, venue security managers and
staff, unions (remember, Vegas is a union town) and other stakeholders to make
sure systems are set up to deter and discover “accidentally thrown out
electronic devices” and more.
2. CES is so big
that it’s different
starts right after New Year’s Day and lasts a very intensive week. The next CES
will probably have close to 200,000 participants and will cover at least two
and a half million square feet of exhibition space. Even in Las Vegas, which
holds over 20,000 conventions per year, CES is a big deal. In fact, it’s the
biggest deal in a town that’s used to some very big deals, and it creates
significant logistical challenges for everyone.
takeaway: You snooze you lose. Demand for event security services is high,
and there are supply issues for practically everything corporations will need.
For example, the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center, the main venue,
hires over 350 security guards locally all by itself, just for CES. Get
organized and book resources early – or you’ll be left behind with second-tier
But event planners
and security teams must also really sharpen their scheduling skills to achieve
success. Build-in and build-out periods are hyper-busy, too, with thousands of
people moving around millions of dollars’ worth of new tech. Careful planning
and execution are essential to ensure end-to-end security.
3. CES attracts a
LOT of media
Last year more
than 7,000 print, online and broadcast professionals attended CES. They
generated nearly 60,000 media mentions worldwide in intense competition to be
the first to break a story and provide their audiences with the latest tech
news. A lot of the coverage is immediate: journalists armed with everything
from iPhones to onsite studios are ready to capture what’s new and interesting,
and upload it to the internet in minutes.
takeaway: We’ve seen people do all kinds of things at CES. One moment a
guy is trying to pocket a thousand-dollar gadget; the next moment someone is
staging a spontaneous, one-man demonstration meant to highlight grievances
against a brand or CEO.
Welcome to the
front page. Are you ready to go viral with everything you do as security
professionals, from greeting guests to taking care of critical incidents? How
security personnel react to these occurrences is important not only to the
protection of people and assets, but also to corporate reputations. Event security
teams need to approach CES in the same way they would work a live broadcast
show, because that’s what it has become. If they don’t plan ahead and train how
they will defuse eye-catching disturbances, they might become news, too.
4. The guest list
at CES reads like a who’s who of the corporate elite
CES attracts more
prominent players in the tech industry than any other event. In 2017, 38 of the
Fortune 500 exhibited. Hundreds of CEOs from the U.S. and abroad attend each
year. While at the show, thought leaders and tech visionaries engage in nearly
non-stop activity, holding a wide variety of keynotes, press conferences, and
one-on-one meetings. These VIPs pack in dozens of appointments in a day and
have precious little time to stand in line.
takeaway: Event security teams must work closely and seamlessly with
executive protection professionals tasked with safeguarding tier-one and
tier-two execs who have tight schedules and sky-high productivity goals. Only
by coordinating across all security layers, from venue security to EP teams,
from arrival at the front (or back) door to moving between pavilions, can event
security teams ensure that key executives move efficiently from appointment to
5. One show, one
city, one week – many events, locations and stakeholders
runs from Sunday, January 7 to Friday, January 12, 2018. Peak traffic times
will be at opening and closing Tuesday – Friday. CES has 11 official
venues grouped in three parts of the city: Tech East, Tech West and Tech South.
All the big players have booths at the convention center – as well as
extensive, by-invitation-only activities at major hotels. Depending on
what the corporation has going on at CES, event security teams might have to
effectively double their activities to cover both booths at the convention
center and event security needs. And yes, expect traffic to be a mess.
takeaway: Multiple locations impact manpower requirements, of course, but
it also has consequences for the kind of event security management you need.
For one thing, be
sure to hire security drivers who know their way around town. They are more
secure than other types of ground transportation, and they will know the back
roads and alternative routes. They won’t get you there fast. Nothing in Vegas
traffic is fast during CES. But they will get your VIPs there safer and faster
For another thing,
remember that corporate event security professionals will need to cooperate
with multiple sets of stakeholders that range from convention venue security to
hotel security, local law enforcement, trade unions and more. In our experience
when navigating all of these stakeholders, experience and a good deal of
emotional intelligence go a long way.
protection teams should know that it’s possible to meet arriving private
aircraft on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport – but only if the
vehicle is registered and has a TCP number. This is another good reason to plan
early – registered vehicles and the best security drivers usually get booked
far in advance.
6. Relying on
existing security will be OK for some – but not for all. CES event security
was ramped up in 2016 and 2017.
This included new
restrictions on bag sizes and numbers, baggage screening, photo IDs, and more.
Given recent events in Vegas, expect even tighter restrictions in 2018.
However, since the
show must go on, and because the number of visitors is so huge, the
effectiveness of these measures is not absolute. We all know this as security
professionals: There are, always trade-offs between complete safety and
complete freedom of movement. Clogging the arteries of CES with show-stopping
lines did not seem to be an option in 2017, and there were widespread reports
of the new guidelines not being met. One seasoned tech journalist even did a
piece on “security
theater” at CES (his words, not ours).
takeaway: Major corporations who invest heavily in CES will want more
event security than what the venues provide. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not
knocking what our colleagues at the convention centers and hotels do. We’re
just pointing out that there’s only so much that they can do – and
that they’re there to protect everyone, not any one specific corporation.
spend significant resources on CES will want to add their own, dedicated event
security teams, and tailor their services to match the corporation’s specific
needs in terms of security and the branded guest experience.