As a CEO running a national trade association – the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) – these past 18 months put me on a roller coaster of emotion as I work to lead by example and make decisions that will have positive effects.
In July 2020, I led the decision process to cancel our live, in-person, CES and opt for a digital show instead. This was a difficult choice because I knew it was going to have a negative effect on a lot of people. First, our staff – we had to downsize and lay off employees. Second, the City of Las Vegas – they rely on events like CES to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the city and fuel their local economy. Canceling our in-person CES affected the hotels and the hospitality workers and the workers who welcome us each year and help us pull off the most influential tech gathering in the world! Third, the industry – tens of thousands each year gather at CES to see the latest innovation, to meet new business partners and to develop new ideas.
As difficult as that decision was, I knew it was the right one because with no vaccine available it simply was not safe to hold CES during a pandemic. Our only defense against COVID-19 at that time was to minimize contact with people, wash our hands and wear face masks. Canceling the in-person CES was the right thing to do – we wanted to do our part and not spread the disease.