CES Outboarding Policy

Outboarding at CES is unethical, not fair and not tolerated

As owner and producer of CES, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ works diligently to protect our exhibitors’ commitment and investment in the trade show and the industry by taking a firm stance against outboarding.   

Outboarding is defined as any non‐permanent exhibit, demonstration, event, or branded activation that lasts for more than one day during CES and outside of contracted space with CTA. This includes events at Las Vegas hotel suites, meeting rooms, ballrooms, restaurants, clubs, etc. A company is also considered an outboarder if it has contracted space with CTA but contracts directly with another Las Vegas venue for space (for more than one day) that exceeds the net square footage (NSF) contracted with CTA.   

Trade shows are organized so that companies in specific industries can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, meet with industry partners and customers and examine market trends and opportunities. More than 6,500 members of the media attend CES and generate some 40,000 stories that help build awareness, brand recognition and business development for more than 3,800 CES exhibitors whose participation dollars provide CTA with the funds to host this event and reinvest back into the industry. However, the integrity of the show is diminished and the value becomes diluted when companies seek ‐ in an unofficial capacity ‐ to capitalize on the 165K+ CES attendees who travel to Las Vegas to meet as an industry.

CES brings all facets of the consumer tech community together and we recognize the critical importance of networking to build business. We encourage official exhibitors to host parties and special events to enhance an official presence before and after hours. But, such events should be held to strengthen a company’s CES brand positioning, not held as stand‐alone functions that compete against those who are making an additional investment in their brand activation at CES.   

Companies who outboard cause inconvenience to attendees and hurt the overall industry as CTA invests CES net proceeds back into the industry through industry promotion, research, standards development, public policy and related activities to benefit the entire consumer technology ecosystem. In fact our CES attendee survey results indicate that nearly 50 percent of show attendees dislike having to leave the show floor to have meetings with exhibitors and/or clients off‐site.

Outboarding violates CES policy and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) guidelines. When CES determines that outboarding has occurred, CTA will enforce the rule against the participating company and may impose penalties for violations. It is the CTA Board policy that outboarding companies are subject to sanctions that start with the loss of priority points and for those who are CTA members, may include removal from CTA membership.   

CES has wide array of inventory available for companies looking for options outside of traditional booth space, including suites, meeting rooms and special venues. We are willing to work with any industry entity to bring its tech innovation experience to life at CES and connect with the global market.    


Frequently Asked Questions 

What real harm does outboarding cause?

CES, like other trade shows, is based on the principle that gathering people in a limited locale is efficient, cost‐effective and allows relationships and business to develop for all involved. CTA invests heavily in marketing, transportation and logistics to ensure that all attendees can maximize their investment and efficiency in getting to and around Las Vegas. Outboarders seduce attendees away from the authorized show sites and disperse them throughout the city adding heavily to traffic congestion. Attendees complain via their CES survey responses that they resent visiting companies at non‐official venues as it reduces their time at official sites.  

Is this mandate discouraging small companies from participating in CES due to cost?

Over 80 percent of CTA members are small businesses, many that launched their businesses at CES. CES offers highly affordable turnkey exhibit space, including space in product category‐specific Marketplaces, as well as a wide array of meeting rooms and hospitality suites and special event venues. Our Eureka Park area offers lower cost space for startups. Exhibiting costs are generally less than the cost of outboarded events, and include the benefit of supporting the show and industry, along with promotion and access to buyers and media that come along with being an official exhibitor. Official exhibitors have access to press conference space, media lists as well as access to complimentary registration passes for their key customers.

What are the consequences of an outboarding violation?

Outboarding is a violation of CTA and CES rules, is an unethical business practice and in violation of IAEE guidelines. Las Vegas hotels often require those (non‐exhibitors) who rent suites and meeting rooms to sign a document as part of the contract process attesting that the space will not be used as “outboarded” space. Companies who outboard may face several penalties as follows:

  • They will lose priority points affecting their space selection order for future CES’. For instance, if an exhibitor (i) cancels its official space and has space in any non‐official venue during the CES dates, and/or (ii) in addition to its CES official space, has space in any non‐official venue during the CES dates with an area equal to or greater than its CES official space, then the exhibitor will lose all priority points for CES in the future.
  • Companies may be subject to exposure as an outboarder to CTA members, media, customers and shareholders.
  • Companies may also be subject to loss of its CTA membership.

What should I do if I know of an outboarder or an outboarder contacts me to visit their event during CES hours?

Please contact CTA at CESsales@CTA.tech. If invited to visit an outboarder, you can explain to the outboarder the impact of outboarding on CES, the industry and official exhibitors.