San Francisco’s reputation as one of the America’s most urbane, progressive cities puts it at or near the top of most planners’ lists. It boasts a benign climate, and the diversity of its multicultural and multinational population has resulted in a thriving arts and tech scene spread across unique, easily accessible neighbourhoods.
Adding to its appeal are surrounding areas of natural beauty such as the wine-growing region of Napa Valley and the forests of Muir Woods, while having the Silicon Valley tech haven on its doorstep also boosts its credentials. The five-day Oracle Openworld conference in September 2016 attracted 60,000 attendees, as well as 2.1 million online participants, while Salesforce’s convention in October drew 60,000 delegates.
Moscone Center – The city’s largest event venue is located near the trendy Mission district. A sprawling convention and exhibition complex with a total area of 186,000 sqm – including 24,000 sqm of meeting space (106 meeting rooms) and 65,000 sqm of exhibition space – it prides itself on its sustainability initiatives. A planned expansion project will add 33,000 sqm to the centre in the coming years.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square – This almost 2,000 guest-room hotel is spread across three towers in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, and offers 12,000 sqm of event space including two huge ballrooms served by a team of Certified Meeting Planners.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – A new museum that opened in May 2016, MOMA has quickly become a popular location for small- to mid-sized events, courtesy of its array of interesting spaces, from high-ceilinged art galleries to sculpture gardens and an alfresco area next to a “living wall”.
Grand Theater – This historic theatre in the hip Mission district has been retrofitted with audiovisual capabilities. Its 650 sqm of total space can host events for up to 800 people, while the evocative stage area alone can handle 260 seated and 400 standing.
Just 21km and a half-hour’s drive south of the city, San Francisco International Airport is the second busiest air hub in California (after LA), handling more than 50 million passengers in 2015.
United Airlines flies from here to more than a dozen Asia-Pacific cities, and more than a dozen other Asian airlines operate connecting routes to the west coast metropolis.
The San Francisco Travel Association is the city’s official DMO.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz – Seafood restaurants on Pier 39, or in one of the renovated historic red-brick factories, can be booked for large groups. Tours can also be arranged to “The Rock” – Alcatraz Island, which served as the US’s most infamous maximum security prison for around 30 years, housing characters such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly.
Napa Valley – A one-hour drive takes delegates to sun-kissed Napa Valley, where a host of wineries offer tasting itineraries that can last a few hours or be incorporated into a full-day tour of top vineyards. The Meadowood luxury resort near St Helena is a stunning location for private events and small conferences, boasting its own golf course and croquet lawns.