Event professionals have a multitude of host cities to select from, but more and more are making San Jose, California, their top pick. What is it about San Jose that is wooing major companies and associations away from the competition?
From June 5 to 9, Apple triumphantly returned its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) to San Jose, where it hosted the inaugural event in 2002. For the last 15 years, it was held in San Francisco.
“We’re ecstatic that Apple has chosen to host its WWDC 2017 in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley and site of the very first WWDC,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told The Loop. “And on behalf of our entire city, I’d like to extend a warm invitation to Apple developers, partners and enthusiasts from around the world to join us in downtown San Jose as Apple unveils its latest innovations.”
Since losing WWDC to its neighbor to the north 15 years ago, San Jose has grown exponentially.
“Our convention center underwent a major expansion in 2013, creating a new grand ballroom with an additional 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting space,” said Rachel Davis, public relations and communications specialist for Team San Jose. “Our downtown also underwent revitalization and offers a wealth of activities in its museums, restaurants and cultural neighborhoods. Two popular districts in downtown that have seen the most development are San Pedro Square and SoFA District. These have been the catalysts to many high-rise developments.”
The tech giant’s new headquarters is located in Cupertino, just minutes away from San Jose. The Loop writer Jim Dalrymple speculated the decision to relocate the conference from San Francisco to San Jose could have been influenced by rising costs in San Francisco.
“My big hope is that the cost of hotels, restaurants and all of the sundry expenses that developers found overwhelming in San Francisco will decline in San Jose,” he wrote. “I know many developers that stopped going to WWDC because the cost of a week in San Francisco was just too high. Some developers stayed outside the city to reduce costs, but that left them out of many events that happened during the evening.”
The Apple event was held at McEnery Convention Center, but third-party and evening functions took advantage of various locations around the city including San Pedro Square Market, Tech Museum of Innovation, Discovery Meadow, San Jose Marriott, Hilton San Jose, Montgomery Theater, California Theater and Hyatt Place San Jose.
Davis emphasized that Team San Jose welcomes events with open arms and assists planners with everything from housing to facilities, catering, permits, marketing and more.
“We also provide the perfect branding opportunity for planners with our ‘Own the City’ campaign,” she says. “This campaign allows groups to post their branding throughout downtown, the convention center, and the airport. We also boast Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi, the nation’s best free Wi-Fi experience.”
International attention will once again be directed at San Jose in January 2018 for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which also serves as the Olympic qualifying event. The event was previously held there in 1996 and 2012. USA Gymnastics also selected San Jose’s SAP Center as the site to host the last two Olympic trials.
“What an honor to be selected to host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the Olympic year,” said Patricia Ernstrom, executive director of the San Jose Sports Authority. “With the continued support of our key community partners, including the city and its Office of Economic Development, San Jose Hotels Inc., and Team San Jose, San Jose has proven itself as a premier destination for successful, world-class sporting events.”
Besides Apple and Team USA, San Jose has proudly hosted Silicon Valley Auto Show, Hadoop, Silicon Valley Comic Con and Facebook.