1. WHY C.E.S. IS RELEVANT AGAIN: In recent years, big-name tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung have held product demo events outside of C.E.S. But this year, high-profile companies will have a much bigger presence at the consumer tech trade show as they present competing gadgets. Bloomberg: “This year, however, the biggest internet companies are pouring money into a growing range of consumer gadgets, many in competition with one another. CES is relevant again. At the 4,000-exhibitor show kicking off on Jan. 9, Google is setting up a booth for the first time in years, and Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook, and other companies are expected to prowl the Vegas showrooms in much greater earnest than usual. The companies are racing to differentiate themselves in the emerging market for smart speakers and the shaky market for virtual-reality headsets, and to beat their rivals to store shelves with augmented-reality glasses that can overlay information or goofy characters on a wearer’s view of the real world. There won’t be much for consumers to play with, but sales reps pitching advanced chips and other components have a shot at career-making deals, and the sales made in the meeting rooms off the show floors will likely help shape the design of groundbreaking products for the next couple of years. ... The smart-speaker market is well-established, but this is a make-or-break year for VR. The major headset makers, including Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, haven’t been able to shrink their hardware or prices enough to attract interest from non-diehards. Facebook aims to change that early in the year with a budget model, the $200 Oculus Go. Headset makers attending the show will be eager to negotiate for more powerful chips, better lenses, and other components." https://bloom.bg/2Cavo6F
2. SOUTH KOREA OFFERS TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA FOR PEACEFUL OLYMPICS: South Korea on Tuesday accepted talks with North Korea in an effort to make next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang a peaceful event. North Korea on Monday offered an Olympic truce with South Korea. Associated Press: “In a closely watched New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics, though he also repeated fiery nuclear threats against the United States. Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington in a bid to reduce international isolation and sanctions against North Korea. Kim’s overture was welcome news for a South Korean government led by liberal President Moon Jae-in, who favors dialogue to ease the North’s nuclear threats and wants to use the Olympics as a chance to improve inter-Korean ties. Moon’s unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, proposed in a nationally televised news conference that the two Koreas meet Jan. 9 at the shared border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties. Earlier Tuesday, Moon spoke of what he described as Kim’s positive response to his earlier dialogue overtures and ordered officials to study how to restore talks with North Korea and get the North to participate in the Olympics. ... In his address Monday, Kim said the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. He said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk, warning that 'the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.' He called for improved ties and a relaxation of military tensions with South Korea, saying the Winter Olympics could showcase the status of the Korean nation. But Kim also repeated that South Korea must stop annual military exercises with the United States, which he calls an invasion rehearsal against the North." http://bit.ly/2CFDBRJ
3. NEW YEAR'S EVENTS HAD TIGHTEST SECURITY IN YEARS: Despite concerns including terrorism and freezing temperatures, people across the globe rang in 2018 at public events that featured some of the tightest security in recent years. CNN: “In New York, hundreds of thousands of people packed Times Square in the 9-degree Fahrenheit weather, with a wind chill of 4 degrees below zero, to watch the 2018 ball drop and confetti rain down on the street. The frigid temperature made it the second coldest New Year's Eve ball drop on record in New York. The coldest ball drop still holds at 1-degree Fahrenheit in 1917. Law enforcement agencies had added additional security measures, including extra checkpoints, police dogs, street closures and undercover officers. 'You will see a stronger police presence out there than we've seen, even than what we've seen in recent years. And that's prudent, given the terror events we have seen and studied around the world as well as the three incidents here in New York over the past 15 months,' said NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill before the East Coast clock struck midnight. And in Las Vegas, where a gunman killed 58 people at a music festival in October, officials installed extra security -- including National Guard officers and snipers on rooftops -- along the famed Las Vegas Strip. Fireworks lit the sky in a synchronized spectacle over the city as the new year began. In San Francisco, fireworks burst over the waterfront amid a heavier-than-usual police presence. Security was intensified after a man had been arrested in December for allegedly seeking to attack a popular San Francisco tourist site on Christmas Day." http://cnn.it/2Cv7jeg
* INDUSTRY NEWS *
Richard Cousins, the C.E.O. of Compass—the world's largest catering firm—and five others died in a plane crash in Sydney on December 31. CNBC: http://cnb.cx/2Ca49co
* LOCAL NEWS *
HOUSTON: Embassy Suites by Hilton Houston West—Katy has opened. The 208-suite hotel, which is owned by Mac Haik Hospitality and managed by Aimbridge Hospitality, has more than 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
LAS VEGAS: The Vegas Strong Benefit Concert, which took place December 1, raised more than $700,000 for victims of the terror attack at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in October.
Downtown restaurant Carson Kitchen has appointed Scott Simon executive chef.
LOS ANGELES: This year's L.A. Art Show will take place January 10-14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles
NEW ORLEANS: Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, a gaming and pop culture convention, will take place January 5-7 at New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
NEW YORK: The ninth annual Beer, BBQ & Bourbon Festival will take place January 27 at the Tunnel. The tasting event raises funds for the Spirit of Hope Children's Foundation, which provides support and promotes education for children and adults with a mental or physical disability.
For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork
SAN DIEGO: The 50th edition of the Global Business Travel Association (G.B.T.A.) Convention will take place August 11-15 at the San Diego Convention Center.
SAN FRANCISCO: Loews Regency San Francisco has appointed Bruce Gorelick general manager.
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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.
BizBash Daily is the must-read digest of event industry news from BizBash.com.
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