With 170,000 or 270,000 visitors (depends how you count), CES must be one of the very few shows where the promoters actually try to play down the numbers regarding visitors, also because in practice, no one really knows. There are so many suites and hotels extending the activities of CES throughout the week, that it becomes hard to understand where it starts and where it ends.
In fact, there are people registered at the show, wearing those gigantic napkin-like badges with photos in it throughout town, that in fact never actually visit one of the show locations where they are required! Like at the Sands Convention Center or the LVCC. There is hardly a single hotel ballroom or meeting space in town not being used for demonstration rooms or an hospitality suite. And it is possible to do a CES show and actually just walk from suite to suite, hotel to hotel, on "private demos," and exclusive invitation-only events, and never actually "see the show."
If you look at CES exclusively from one industry angle, you will fail to understand why CES is still so important and why it does attract so many people to Vegas every year. There are people selling CRM software that attend CES every year, close millions of dollars of business, have business meetings at all the famous and exclusive restaurants, spend the night on strip clubs, and return home on a corporate jet, all thanks to its recent cryptocurrency gains... And they never even get close to the Las Vegas Convention Center. (And that's why they didn't even noticed this year's power outage...)
In contrast, there are those poor souls that visit Vegas every year looking for the remaining of an "audio/hifi show" at the Venetian - with those pathetic elevator cues and the awful smell of dirty socks that emanates from some suites - to see a remaining handful of living room speaker/amplifier demonstrations - which would get far more attention at Rocky Mountain, Axpona or any other audio show. I really don't understand, why that "thing" is still there. In those Venetian suites there are many technology providers, and brands who attend just to meet the press and distributors, that could do much better elsewhere (and there are plenty of options).
Anyway, even worse is to meet with the thousands of "media" colleagues from all over the world, which visit CES looking to report on "the latest gadgets" for their click-bait blogs, Youtube channels or tabloid newspapers. They will point their GoPro/iPhone cameras at anything that looks like a robot, and will report on how Artificial Intelligence will dominate our lives, because Samsung released their 28th generation of the Internet-connected-fridge - and no one even bothers to check back at what those same companies introduced last year at CES, which would reveal that 99% of those "gadgets" never actually existed, much less made it to market!
CES is a show promoted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). And it is telling that they changed the name to "Technology," because that's what CES is about. Selling new technologies to multiple industries, and demonstrating those industries' vision of applied technology. It's not the products. It's not the gadgets.
The reason why CES is still thriving as a show, it's because there's increasing business every year on selling technology to those industries. Including now to the automotive sector that used to be about "car-audio" and "infotainment" systems at CES, and is now looking at redefining its very core technology, replacing the combustion engine and introducing autonomous driving, with all the implications that entails.
And CES 2018 was not "just" the show of voice assistants, AI, or VR, as the "tech-blogs" want you to think. It was the show of the cryptocurrency economy. As I could confirm in those always enlightening chats with taxi and Uber drivers, Las Vegas "gentlemen's clubs" are now accepting cryptocurrency and there are even bitcoin ATMs available...
Much in the same way as the real technology "revolution" at CES last year was ride-sharing companies finally taking over Las Vegas, this year was in fact about the digital economy. Immediately after CES, other trade-shows descend upon Las Vegas, including the Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), World of Concrete 2018, and the Adult Entertainment Expo - AVN Adult Expo 2018 (running concurrently...). Compared to CES, those shows are conservative and relatively low-tech moments for the Sin City, even if Uber and Lyft drivers will be as busy as ever.