While the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in late October drew less on-site registration than hoped for, preregistration was strong.
So far, that’s the only hiccup in local convention attendance this fall , an exceptional feat considering that consumer confidence slumped when the U.S. stock market took one of its worst dives ever in October, says Steve Johnson, spokesman for the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
The SDCCC markets and sells space for the 2.6 million-square-foot, bay-front facility downtown.
Johnson attributes the Convention Center’s ability to weather the economic downturn to association bookings rather than corporate bookings.
“It will continue to be a show by show situation,” Johnson said. “But most events so far have surpassed our expectations.”
In fiscal 2008, the center counted 648,159 out-of-town attendees and an economic impact of $1.8 billion, versus 617,089 and $1.56 billion in fiscal 2007.
Corporations’ business is more susceptible to fluctuations in the economy than associations’, he explains.
“Corporations react faster because they’re not about raising money,” he said. “They’re about training employees and users of their products and services, and therefore a lot easier to cancel.
“Associations depend on revenue from their annual meetings to support them throughout the year. So they don’t cancel an annual meeting. That’s how they survive.”
But hotels haven’t been so lucky.
Johnson and other tourism officials say that conventioneers traveling to San Diego are shortening their stays, which means a decline in occupancy and revenue at hotels that are in or near downtown, as well as a drop in sales and hotel room tax collections for the city.
“I’ve heard that people who might have stayed as long as four and a half days on average are now staying three days, so that’s how they’re saving,” Johnson added.
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Restaurant Week Twice The Feast Next Year:
San Diego Restaurant Week will be celebrated twice in 2009, Jan. 11 to 16 and Sept. 13 to 18.
Launched in 2005, the event provides foodies and everyone else a culinary extravaganza of three-course meals priced at $20, $30 and $40.
“San Diego’s standing as a dining city has been fueled by the power of San Diego Restaurant Week,” said Ingrid Croce, event chairwoman and owner of Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Send tourism and hospitality news to Connie Lewis via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.