Local businesses expected to take big hit now that CES will be virtual in 2021

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas’ largest convention will not be coming to town next year, so a lot of local businesses will be negatively impacted.

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it’s called, will be entirely online in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The annual trade show is expected to return in January 2022.

Many local businesses rely on conventions, like CES, to make ends meet. But now that CES has gone virtual, there are concerns about what other trade shows will do.

Right now, small businesses that usually benefit from CES are now trying to make up for the huge hit they will be facing.

“We do grand and large format print work,” said Altitude Color Technologies Vice President Jennifer Folk.

The Las Vegas company creates custom prints, and for over 20 years, they have relied on conventions, like the Consumer Electronics Show, for about half of their business.

“We would do the exhibitor’s booth, whether it be their table cloth, their backdrops, the front of the actual Convention Center,” Folk said.

But with no in-person event next year, Folk says the company will be hit hard.

“We were really looking forward to 2021 being a great new year and getting back to some normalcy here, and with that happening, it takes us off guard,” Folk said.

Now, they are trying to pivot so they can recoup at least some of the losses.

“We’ve been working on a lot of backdrops with our fabric machines for virtual convention work, virtual office work,” Folk said.

Pam Howatt owns a local catering company called Divine Events, which will also be negatively affected by no physical CES convention.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” Howatt said. “The impact is about $400,000 to us in lost revenue. So yeah, it is a big hit.”

Since CES is a bulk of her business, she is now coming up with creative solutions as well.

“We’re looking at working on private events and weddings,” Howatt said.

Howatt and her team are also worried about other conventions next spring.

“A lot of other industry events were looking to CES to see what decision they were going to make regarding the January show, so I think it will impact their decisions,” said Cassie Leibovici with Divine Events.

The future of conventions is also a concern for Folk. But she is hoping for the best.

“We’re just kind of taking it day by day,” Folk said.

CES 2021 was supposed to be the first event inside the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) CEO Steve Hill says it is unfortunate the show is not happening, but he understands the reason why.

In response to the news that CES would not be in-person this year, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak tweeted, “Just as I have taken aggressive steps to help protect the health and safety of Nevadans from this virus, I respect the decision of CES to protect the health and safety of their employees, attendees and exhibitors in this global pandemic.”

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