Where did the conventions go in downtown San Diego?
San Diego Convention Center where meetings and events take place all year long. ©Joseph Rodriguez / Proimagesphoto.com
Seems like yesterday that the San Diego Convention center was hustling and bustling with attendees all over the place. I am a Convention photographer and have covered over 100 plus conferences, tradeshows, conventions, and events over the past 15 years in San Diego.
January 2020, Paradise Point. That was the last photo assignment for me in San Diego for 2020. This is a great resort for groups up to 800 but you would have to contact them to get the exact maximum.
COVID-19 is the culprit that caused all this mess. March 2020 was my last official photo assignment in this industry and here we are about to be in March 2021 and still I have not done any meetings, but time will tell.
Currently, two vaccines have been approved and actively distributed. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine. Both require two injections within a period. The pace of these vaccinations is sluggish and could cause a slow down before COVID-19 and invite variants to emerge.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has not been formally approved but let us hope it does soon.
So, what is going on right now at the San Diego Convention Center?
The convention center has been repurposed as a temporary shelter for homelessness which allows more space for physical distancing and prevention of spreading COVID-19 which cannot be found in their current shelter facilities.
Beds setup in San Diego Convention Center for Homeless during COVID.
Here are some facts I will write here but you can to their site as well.
Currently there are about 10408 Shelter clients and 4043 Staff or Volunteers.
That is 14082 Negative test results. 256 did test positive but you can find more information on the link above.
Since March of 2020 I read that over 100 events and conventions have been cancelled or postponed. The San Diego Union Tribune wrote that equates to over half-million attendees. Hotels and restaurants to name just a couple of areas have been financially hardship.
Jeanine Littrel, CMP who was the Sr. Conference and Travel Manager for IBO.org is now Senior Director, Conferences & Meetings International Franchise Association. She hired me for the IBO.org meetings. I posted some photos here on my blog. Just a side note, Jeanine will be having the IFA.org annual conference virtual this year but, in February of 2022 it will be held in sunny San Diego!
USS Midway was a great venue for the final night and the attendees just loved the experience. This is what I hope to get back to, but I guess all of us in this moment wishes that as well.
Anne-Sophie Byers, CMP, who is now my main contact at IBO is the Conference Logistics Delivery Associate Manager. I have worked for her for some years as well.
I was supposed to be in Toronto for her in July of 2020, but the Pandemic stopped happend and then this year again I was informed their summer meeting was cancelled and will be virtual. A good amount of IBO’s attendees are international members and COVID restrictions in many countries proves to be the fatal blow for those wanting to attend.
IBO.org attendees during break at the annual conference held in San Diego, CA
IBO.org member at a final night event on board the USS Midway having her photo taken and emailed onsite by proimagesphoto.com
Final event on the USS Midway in San Diego, CA
©Joseph Rodriguez / Proimagesphoto.com
Will meetings comeback late 2021 at the San Diego Convention?
I went to visitsandiego.com and read that they are currently closed to events and the timeline depends on the state and local revisions on public gatherings. Also, California has yet to provide specific rules for convention centers.
Hybrid events I believe are allowed with virtual components where small gatherings are combined and remote viewers presenting keynotes with other live speakers in remote locations. To learn more about this and other information go to visitsandiego and safe meeting protocols.
As the year continues it is my hope that late 3rd quarter some meetings will come back. I currently have 3 conventions I will be covering closer to 4th quarter this year but that can change.
Corporate meetings will return in full strength by 2022, that is what I believe. I look forward to walking the halls of the convention center and the people I have met and become good friends.
So, in the meantime some the great places to visit if you can get a chance to go to San Diego for a meeting or just go to vacation.
Great Places to visit while in San Diego!
Gaslamp District with lighted buggy in foreground in San Diego, CA ©Joseph Rodriguez / proimagesphoto.com
Gaslamp Quarter, this area was the hub for attendees to venture and enjoy the variety of food, nightlife, and shopping. All with a walk of the many hotels that are downtown.
Seaport Village walk way on San Diego Bay near Convention Center ©Joseph Rodriguez / Proimagesphoto.com
Just one of many places to eat at Seaport Village in San Diego.
A place I have often hung out while on assignment is Seaport Village San Diego. It faces the bay and behind many of the hotels and right next to the convention center. Now this has some great photo spots.
Petco Park Baseball stadium home of the San Diego Padres ©Joseph Rodriguez / proimagesphoto.com
Petco Park home of the San Diego Padres is a great place to have an event and I have done plenty of photography coverage there and the weather day or night while watching the games does not disappoint.
There are so many locations in San Diego to write about, but I will leave you with the above and let you google the rest. Though I am based in Texas I consider myself a San Diego Convention Photographer and feel at home there.
As we continue the path on getting back to normal let’s always remember the moments before this and appreciate those times with reverence.
I do feel even with a vaccine we are still going to continue wearing masks at meetings for a few more years, if I am wrong I will gladly be happy to be called out. It is not for me to judge anyone’s opinions we all have them, but we can only control what we do for us and in the end that is what we need to do. If you have any thoughts, please share. I am new to blogging and hope to continue.
After all I have time on my hands, though I do product photography, architectural photography, and headshots in my studio, I still wish I were on the road again.