170,000 people usually come to Dreamforce, which along with the now departed Oracle OpenWorld would typically clog up traffic all over downtown for several days as conventioneers descended on the city. This year will be much different, but a section of Howard Street is shut down, with most of Dreamforce's big events happening outside.
No exact number of attendees is being publicized, but both NBC Bay Area and KPIX/CBS 5 have very similar reports on the start of Dreamforce this week, which will feature addresses by Will Smith and Jane Fonda, and a performance by Foo Fighters. The official word is that "hundreds" are coming to the conference, as opposed to tens of thousands, and it was invitation-only this year, but are they really putting on a Foo Fighters concert for just a couple hundred people?
The convention does have a streaming element, so attendees from across the globe will be participating virtually.
Forest French, the general manager at Tabletop Tap House (in the Metreon complex), acknowledged to KPIX that it's likely to be a "a slow start" with the scaled-down Dreamforce, in terms of bringing convention tourism back, "but it is a start," he said.
Joe D’Alessandro, the CEO and president of San Francisco Travel who's been known in recent years to be pretty bearish about the city's tourism future and convention traffic, tells KPIX that he thinks SF's high vaccination rate (and now declining Delta case numbers) may encourage more conferences to come here. He called the downsized Dreamforce a step in the right direction.
"Salesforce puts a lot of emphasis on this globally, so that’s important," D'Allesandro tells the station. "Secondly, it’s important to tell the world that San Francisco is open. It’s open for business, you’re welcome to come here, it’s safe to come and meet here."
Earlier this month, the California Dental Associations Annual Conference hosted around 5,700 attendees at the Moscone Center, marking the first conference to happen in the city since March 2020.
Several big conferences in SF that had been scheduled for October and November have been cancelled, but some downtown restaurants say they've seen a small uptick in business from smaller meetings that have been taking place at nearby hotels.
"We still have a long way to go but we are taking steps in the right direction as these meetings begin to return,” said Lorenzo Bouchard, partner and general manager at One Market, speaking to KRON4.
For the past 18 months, the vast spaces inside the Moscone Center complex have sat largely empty, but some have been repurposed — first as the headquarters for the city's Department of Emergency Management, which ballooned from around 10 employees to 400 last spring, and then as a mass-vaccination site that closed in July.
"I’m really excited about welcoming people to San Francisco, welcoming visitors," Mayor London Breed said during the opening of the dental convention. "Conventions are such an important part of ensuring that San Francisco and our economy continues."
Photo via the Salesforce Blog