San Francisco Has an Air of Creativity

By Matt Swenson, March 4, 2016

Maybe it’s the fog. Or is it the wine? Whatever the reason, San Francisco seems to cultivate ideas faster than the rest of the country. It comes as no surprise that last year, San Francisco Travel positioned itself ahead of the curve among destination marketing organizations.

The DMO forged partnerships with Airbnb and Lyft, taking advantage of new technology and merging it with the trend of localized experiences. And sensing a seller’s market, it found an opportunity to relocate incoming groups nearby, creating mini-citywides in some of the country’s most distinct neighborhoods.

The idea of easing lodging, transportation and travel arrangements are old ones in the hospitality industry, yet San Francisco’s fresh approach is catching the attention of meeting professionals. The efforts prevent an old favorite from feeling tired and stagnant.

“San Francisco is a five-star city,” says Helen Szterenfeld, who planned the 25th anniversary meeting for BKR International, a top-10 global accounting association, there in 2014. “It’s a city people like to return to because there is always something to do.” For example, Szterenfeld planned an excursion to wine country for attendees who had already been to the Bay Area, while newcomers toured the city and Alcatraz.

The region’s creativity seeps into events, even if planners are under guidelines to maintain a traditional feel. In Szterenfeld’s case, she steered clear of standby seafood restaurants along Fisherman’s Wharf that are a bit “corny,” as she puts it, instead sending her group to Bistro Boudin, a popular bakery and museum. 

Indeed, you don’t have to be the founder of Apple to be considered an innovator. Sometimes serving a fresh seafood salad at a locally owned eatery is all it takes. You only need to take in the air (and wine) to be inspired. 

Photo credit: Alex Akamine/Orange Photography

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