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
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.
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 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.
I miss the early morning General Sessions, the hot coffee and the crowds mingling in the hallways or foyers between breakouts. The connections that are created and the people I have worked with over the years. Convention Photography, capturing the smiles, the engagement at the tradeshows, the speakers and of all the people attending is what I miss most of all.
It is my hope that Conventions and Meetings be back soon but the reality is, the year is off to a slow start for Conventions and meetings of all sizes.
The majority of meeting planners are focused on rescheduling and rebooking events and my guess is also the locations that are available for later dates.
A survey of, 242 respondents were polled from the meetings and events industry. Below are some insights from their poll.
Key insights from the responses included:
There is a clear shift towards hope for face-to-face meetings to resume in the latter part of 2021 with most planners (53 percent) now predicting that their in-person meetings and events will resume sometime in Q3 & Q4 2021.
The General health and well-being of planners and their family and friends is the top concern now, as opposed to fear/uncertainty, travel & government restrictions, and job security in Q3 2020.
Also 92 percent believe a vaccine is the most important factor in bringing back face-to-face events, an increase of 10 percent from Q3 2020.
The Third quarter of 2021 seems a long way from February 2020 but, it’s now February 2021. The struggles and changes we all have had to make will get us there for the 3rd quarter or sooner. Just have to keep the faith. Q4 will certainly be better, that is my opinion and I am sticking to it. I believe that we may see companies schedule their meetings more in October and November to make up for Q1 and Q2.
Health protocols Conventions and Tradeshows. As I get back to offering Headshot Stations, I see all meetings highly recommend the use of masks. For example, Nevada state requirement for face masks will be required at both the Sands Expo Center and Caesars Forum. Every state has different rules. I will be sure to know in advance when I am on location. Even with the vaccine rolling out, there are still many that feel it will be some time before we all are safe.
Here is a list I found on a show that was in Las Vegas and posted their Health and Safety precautions.
Everyone is required to use face coverings, frequent hand washing and social distancing
Significantly increase entrance and exit areas to the exhibit halls to spread out gatherings of people more evenly throughout the facilities
Designate entrance and exit areas to control and screen visitors with discrete daily health queries, incorporating non-invasive thermal cameras, etc.
Reduce number of people at registration by requiring preregistration and mailing of badges
Prohibit new registrations on site so only pre-qualified and registered individuals will arrive at the SHOT Show
Configure traffic flow with one-way aisles
Install hand sanitizing stations throughout the show, and provide hand sanitizer to each and every individual attending the show
Enhance physical cleaning with hourly sanitizing of high-traffic areas throughout the show floor and common areas, including doorways, elevators and escalators
Collaborate with the Sands Expo Center, Venetian Resort and Caesars Entertainment in their advancements to be among the first in the nation to pursue certification for safety measures aimed at outbreak prevention through actions such as sanitizing the facility nightly. You can find more information of how the Sands Expo Center and Venetian Resort are combating COVID-19 by CLICKING HERE.
Tradeshow and Exhibitor companies will most likely create new ways to have attendees feel safe walking in a booth. Thermal Screening stations will be used. Additional hand sanitizers in all booths as an example. This alone is a subject I will go more in depth on my next post, stay tuned.
Travel is another challenge as many companies are having their employees working from home but as the vaccine rollout improves and the infection drops employers will start getting their staff back in the office which in turn, I can see that changing to allow travel to meetings. So let’s keep our fingers crossed hey even our toes.
Business travelers are going through an evolution and it is being reshaped. We all can agree that change is always going to happen in any circumstance. Fares may dramatically increase to cover the cost of deep cleaning planes after each flight and that cost will be added to the plane ticket.
I can remember back before this Pandemic I would see the occasional person wearing a mask and thought it was a bit odd. Now it’s so common. The transition to this new normal took time but it took and just like that we will get use to whatever is needed to be safe.
Touching on Virtual meetings. This will continue to be a large part of this industry for some time to come but also the fatigue of sitting in front of a monitor of any kind is growing. Keeping the viewer engaged can be a challenge and recent studies some have saying that the micro delays in audio, poorly lighted portrait images and lower resolution screens are just a few reasons of the fatigue.
Listed here are the most popular video conferencing systems in 2020.
FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Duo, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, Amazon Chime, Houseparty and Marco Polo. Which do you use?
As we move into the new year it will be wise to continue the safe protocol.
I read recently that Flu cases are unusually low and my guess is the masks we are all wearing and social distancing. Last year 9 million cases of the flu were reported.
This is a time of crisis for the meeting industry and it poses real threats in all areas that support this industry. My guess is that we will be ok but countless jobs have been lost and may never return. Even more worrisome is the loss of the conventioneer who drives the economics of the meetings that are created. Let’s keep trying to do all we can to bring a better outcome. Get people back to what they love. Drive the virus away by wearing your mask, wash your hands and social distance. This a challenging time for all of us.
I look forward to the days that are ahead with confidence. I will end this quote that I really like.
“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done” – Robert Foster Bennett
If I can help you with your meeting or convention send me your RFP. Looking toward 2021 to be a better year!