CES Announces All-Digital 2021 Show, Largest Las Vegas Convention Powered Down

Posted on: July 28, 2020, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2020, 01:32h.

CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show, is pulling the plug on its in-person 2021 convention, which was scheduled for Las Vegas in January.

CES Las Vegas convention casino
CES is off for 2021, the consumer showcase going fully digital for next year in response to the coronavirus. (Image: Steve Marcus/Reuters)

It’s the latest devastating fiscal fallout for Southern Nevada in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. CES brings in more than 175,000 attendees annually to the region, resulting in an economic impact of around $300 million each year. That money will be lost in 2021.

With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” a statement from the Consumer Technology Association, organizer of CES, explained.

In 2020, CES hogged up the Strip, as it does every January. Las Vegas’ largest convention included 11 locations, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, World Trade Center, Sands Expo, Venetian, Aria, Park MGM, Vdara, Palazzo, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, Westgate, and Renaissance.

In 2021, all exhibitions, product showcases, keynotes, and networking events will be facilitated remotely online, something CES says will be a “highly personalized experience.” CES plans to return to Las Vegas for 2022.

Casinos Lose Big

Since 1979 — when the first CES was held in Las Vegas — casino resorts have enjoyed starting each new year with an influx of consumer electronics professionals. In recent years, the week of CES has been one of the busiest, and with demand high, hotels have been able to charge steep rates.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the average nightly rate for a Strip casino room in 2019 went for $143.21. No month came even close to January, when the average daily room rate sold for $169.45 — a more than 18 percent premium on the year average.

And it isn’t only the Strip that benefits from the higher January kickoff. Downtown Las Vegas rooms averaged $71.80 last year but went for $83.06 in January.

January led the way in terms of convention attendance last year, with 683,400 business people arriving. Las Vegas heavily relies on conventions, its monthly average in 2019 totaling some 554,000 people for meetings.

Gaming Key

Few cities rely more on conventions than Las Vegas. But the coronavirus is expected to delay their return to Southern Nevada for the foreseeable future. Numerous large-scale conventions that play a pivotal role in Las Vegas’ economy have been canceled or postponed past 2020.

That’s why SunTrust Robinson gaming analyst Barry Jonas opined recently that Las Vegas must get back to what made it famous in the first place: gambling.

Today’s gaming market has essentially morphed back 30-plus years in time to when the main focus was recession-resistant gambling, as non-gaming amenities take a back seat,” Jonas said in a note last week.

Along with conventions, Las Vegas’ A-list entertainment options are also likely dark for some time. This week, MGM Resorts announced all live entertainment will remain suspended through at least August 31. Nevada’s largest casino operator and employer warned staff to be ready for layoffs.