Local tourism industry officials are crowing over the most lucrative week they’ve had in a couple years, and while every weekend won’t have this many events, there is optimism for a booming holiday season.
Admittedly, in a normal year, the 2022 Dreamforce conference drawing 40,000 attendees would be considered a down year for a trade show that normally draws 150,000. But will there ever be a “normal year” again? Downtown businesses were happy to see those corporate expense accounts return, even if in smaller numbers than many a previous Dreamforce. And the conference was followed up by an “Everything’s happening this weekend” weekend of Folsom Street Fair, Portola Music Festival, and more.
This harmonic convergence of events did beget the giant influx of tourism dollars that the local hospitality industry had hoped for, according to KRON4. We don’t have a ton of hard numbers yet, but at least two huge hotels, the Park 55 and Hilton were reportedly fully booked over the weekend, and the lately beleaguered hospitality scene feels they did very well for themselves last week.
“That was a good shot in the arm for us and it’s not just the concert promoters or event producers, it’s all the other jobs that come along with it,” SF Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Rodney Fong told KRON4. “Whether they’re florists, or linen companies, or rental equipment companies.”
Obviously, fancy downtown spots enjoyed the spoils of Dreamforce returning. “We actually had a lot of restaurant buyouts at Epic [Steak restaurant] early in the week where the Salesforce group just took over the whole place,” Pete Sittnick, managing partner of Water Bar and Epic Steak told KRON4.
Of course, weeks packed with so many events are not a regular occurrence. But let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture. The chart above only shows hotel occupancy rates, it’s only updated through July 2022, and again, we don’t have numbers from the past seven days. But you see that those hotel occupancy rates are creeping back up into the 70% range, from a pre-pandemic normal of an 80% range.
And there should be more good weekends on the near-term horizon. This coming weekend you have the Castro Street Fair and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which may not pack hotels, but certainly get locals spending hospitality dollars. The following week is Fleet Week, which very likely will pack hotels and draw the tourist element.
Beyond that, Epic Steak’s Sittnick adds that he’s “Looking forward to a holiday season this year that we think is going to be quite busy.” That could be shaping up!
The wild card is whether we have another COVID-19 surge, and there are signs in the U.K. that may looming. And COVID waves do have a way of blowing through PR campaigns to force people back downtown like they were tissue paper.
Image: @Benioff via Twitter