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Value a Big Selling Point as Vacancies Abound

Putting Their Best Feet Forward: While Las Vegas grabs an increasing share of convention and trade show dollars, other cities aren't standing still. A look at what several of them are doing to attract business.

September 23, 2003|Jerry Hirsch | Los Angeles Times

The City by the Bay was once a favorite destination for trade shows and conventions. San Francisco represented all that was cool about California -- a vibrant economy, high technology, the Pacific Ocean and the romance of nearby wine regions.

But all of that made San Francisco one of the most expensive cities in which to hold a convention. Hotel rates were high, and the food and beverage tabs reflected the big catering bills of the dot-com boom.

San Francisco tourism officials are now pitching value. Hotels are willing to deal to fill the thousands of rooms left empty by the slumping tech economy.

The downtown district, a compact 4 square miles, offers lots of great dining, excellent hotels and plenty of night life, providing a sleek and sophisticated urban alternative to places like Las Vegas or Orlando, Fla., said Mark Theis, a vice president with the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A 300,000-square-foot addition to the center, built for $190 million, opened in June; the visitors bureau is targeting mid-size groups into one of the center's three halls and just a few hotels.

-- Jerry Hirsch

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