Would you pay to gawk at CES?

Allowing consumers to attend the trade show could be a winner for everyone involved

Ly Nguyen of Vietnam cleans a glass desktop at the Tosy Robotics Joint Stock Company booth during set up for the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

Richard N. Velotta

Richard N. Velotta

Could the Las Vegas convention and trade show business learn a thing or two from the adult film industry?

Don’t let your imagination sink too low. What I mean is, I’d be a wealthy man if I could cash in every request I have received from people asking me how they can get in the door of Southern Nevada’s largest trade show.

CES is a show unlike any other.

More than 150,000 people jam the aisles of the show floor to get a look at prototypes that someday will become consumer electronics standards. The compact disc was introduced at CES, as was the DVD, the VCR and TiVo.

This year, the WristRevolution TechZone, dedicated to music players, phones and cameras mounted on wristbands, is expected to get considerable attention.

Because consumer electronics fascinate us, there’s always a captive audience who wants to get into the show. But unfortunately for the average consumer, CES is open only to industry professionals and the media.

But what if that changed?

The adult film industry began selling public tickets to the Adult Entertainment Expo several years ago, giving porn fans exactly what they wanted — direct access to actors and actresses. The show previously had been a media- and industry-only affair.

It’s now a lucrative business. The adult expo and related events draw huge crowds. With 25,000 people expected, it’s tapped to be the 20th-largest trade show of 2014.

The public is invited to events Jan. 16-18 at the Hard Rock Hotel. A three-day pass costs $300. VIP tickets range from $100 to $120, and a general admission ticket goes for $80.

What do you get for your money? You can browse exhibits, talk to company executives and get your picture taken with porn stars.

2014 CES: Setup

A display of Hisense televisions is shown as workers prepare for the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Launch slideshow »

AVN has its own niche audience, but CES has broader appeal. Would the public be willing to shell out $15 or $20 to walk the show and see the merchandise?

Other local conventions also could have similar broad appeal. SEMA, the fall automotive show, comes to mind. The National Association of Broadcasters also has a number of celebrity appearances every spring.

The Nightclub and Bar Convention in June and the Global Gaming Expo in October may have enough appeal to draw crowds, too.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority negotiates with show producers all the time. The revenue generated from ticket sales could offset the expense of keeping the floor open extra hours.

And it could be a tourism draw. Done right, opening trade show floors to the public could become one more of Las Vegas’ perks.

Tags: Opinion, Business