SF Travel taking action to boost soft numbers in future convention bookings

The Moscone Center complex in San Francisco was full of people Monday for the start of the TCT cardiovascular research convention this week.

The buzz around the buildings is welcome for San Francisco hotels, restaurants and other businesses that are hoping for a faster rebound from the pandemic.

Some of the city's struggles with homelessness and open drug use are still evident, however, according to some of the convention attendees.

"I definitely notice a little bit of a change from when we were here a couple years ago," said Beth Ferri of New Jersey.

In recent months, SF Travel says some companies that had been holding tentative bookings in the calendar are pulling back.

Meta has canceled its Meta Business Group Summit for March 2025.

Workday has withdrawn tentative plans for events that would have filled about 53,000 hotel room nights.

Some residents say they do see the city making changes to draw people back.

"I do see a difference there has been more cleaning and the streets are a little more cleared up," said Roxana Breceda of San Francisco.

Some convention attendees say the situation was better than expected.

"Maybe during the pandemic it was worse, so better than my expectations," said Dr. Klara Lodin of Sweden.

San Francisco police officers were visible along market street, near many hotels, and around the convention center.

"I'd say they make a larger effort for conventions, yeah. I think that they want the people who come into the city to feel safe and to feel like they could come back," said Jacob Dobson, a San Francisco resident.

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KTVU obtained data from SF Travel showing the number of annual conventions booked.

According to SF Travel, before the pandemic, 2019 was a record year with 49 conventions.

This year, the city has rebounded with 34 booked conventions in 2023.

The next two years, however, have only 22 conventions booked each year for 2024 and 2025.

Only 18 conventions have been confirmed so far for 2026.

To help bring back business, SF Travel is running a "Step into San Francisco" campaign through November, targeting meeting planners in New York, Chicago, Boston, Houston and Washington, D.C..

SF Travel says they expect to close some new deals by the end of the year. They also hope that with the APEC summit in mid-November that will boost business, as San Francisco is put on a worldwide stage.